1997 was, I guess, a time for getting a feel of the place. Yet I didn't do what is sometimes recommended, to wait a year to see how the garden's resident plants perform before you take any drastic action and start removing them.

There were some things I knew I didn't want to keep, as they weren't personal favourites. I removed these, and otherwise waited expectantly to see what appeared as spring growth began.

I grew a lot of plants from seed that first year, raising the half-hardy ones in the north-facing back room of the house, as a greenhouse wasn't available.

In an urge to "reshape", I started removing bits of lawn, wanting to increase planting area.

Another focus of my attentions early on was the area at the far end containing the apple and cherry trees, and some shrubs. It was wild and well-grown and was shaded by the trees. I was used to gardening in shady areas, so did want to reclaim some ground for planting, and set about thinning out some of the shrubs. In the process I found myself making tracks where I walked. A book I was reading at the time - The Complete Book of Gardening (ed Michael Wright, 1978) - contained the following lines:

'Some landscape designers plan large schemes initially without paths because they know that trodden routes will soon appear as people take the most convenient course from point to point. These natural routes are sometimes referred to as desire lines. . . . You could well carry out this exercise on a small scale.'

On a small scale, my "desire lines" were developing, in what I'd already started to call "the woodland area". This later became "Woodland Corner", and one of my favourite parts of the garden.

Trellis was constructed, painted, and fixed to walls, ready for the climbers I wanted to cover all vertical surfaces with. Throughout the year I also concentrated on improving the soil, in woodland corner and elsewhere, with large quantities of horse manure, planting "green manure" crops, and doing lots and lots of digging.

1998 - making brick paths, and Millennium Shed

The garden in 1997

Above and left: The garden in 1997.


Garden plan (link opens in new window)