Gardens are never static and big changes are afoot in part of the garden known as “the old herb garden”.  This was where the previous home-owner had created a garden room to grow herbs.  I’m a plant-a-holic, so when we moved in I knew that the lovely shaped beds here, and sunny position, would suit some of my favourite plants, not least dahlias and roses.

Alliums in garden

“Old Herb Garden” in May with new alliums and the original chives

dahlias in garden

“Old Herb Garden” last August with dahlias in full bloom

The trellising that used to enclose the area fell down, and a replacement shed built, but for 10 years it has continued to provide a home to some of the original herbs, including oregano and chives.  Other flowering plants have been added, lost and moved on to make way for more.

With a major new feature under construction, I thought it a good time to share some pictures of this area, new developments and some close ups of some of the plants here.

The digger’s indigging a garden pond with a mechanical digger

This week I’ve had a digger in to dig a pond.  Every garden magazine says a garden needs water, especially to attract wildlife.  With puddles and water butts being the only watery features in my garden I’ve long hankered after a pond.

It only took me 10 years to realise that the perfect spot was in the Old Herb Garden, where a circle marked out with a low wall and red gravel was crying out for a remake.hole dug for new pond

The pond will be a tank, constructed out of block and screeded and waterproofed.  Low submerged walls will provide a home for marginals and there will be an escape ramp for creatures.

I’m not building it myself – I know my limits – and have splurged the last of my father’s legacy gift to me.  I know he would approve.  In the next picture you’ll see what the soil and sub-soil is like in my garden and why a mechanical digger was the best option.  It took me two hours to dig a grave for my cat so this would have taken me several months!

My soilcross section of clay soil

The digger has created a perfect cross section of the soil conditions in our garden.

I’ve written often on this blog about how my soil is fairly heavy, full of flint, and on a base of thick clay.  It’s hard to work and my tools suffer at every strike.  Years of digging and mulching by the previous owners, as well as myself, have improved the situation.  Even so, large flints turn up at the surface at regular occasions.

I share this to show everyone that few of us have the perfect soil often shared on TV gardening shows – the ones where the spade slides in as if through butter.  Gardening takes grit and effort but with this, a good soil, even with a few flints, will give you amazing displays.

Looking back to 2011 – a rare notebook

new plants in trolley

Not a great picture but I love this of my late father and a trolley load of plants for the Old Herb Garden.

I’m not great at keeping a log of what I’m doing in the garden – well I haven’t been until I started this blog.  However, back in 2011 I obviously decided I would be the kind of gardener who keeps copious notes.  I bought some lovely perennials from Waterperry Gardens during a visit there with my Father, then some mail-order roses on a whim.  Panic followed as I realised I had no plan and no idea if the colours of the things I bought would look good together.  Bored on holiday, I made this little plan.

Some of the perennials I have now moved elsewhere, and some haven’t lasted out the ten years but the jumble of pinks, yellows, oranges and mauves was a pleasing combination for a year or two.  At the bottom of this page I made a note to “add more dahlias”, which is a note to self that I certainly acted on.

garden planting plan

The upside of my rare foray into garden note-booking is that I now know the names of the roses I planted there.  More of that next…

Established Roses

Rose Chicago Peace

Rose ‘Chicago Peace’

Rose Madame Isaac Perriere

Rose ‘Madame Isaac Perriere’

It’s only taken 10 years but the small bare-root roses I planted back in 2011 are looking great.  I shared a picture on twitter of this “label long lost” rose – leading to a thread of name suggestions.  Then I found my coloured plan and there it was, ‘f” in the planting plan – ‘ Chicago Peace’ .  I felt a bit silly that I hadn’t thought to check before sending it out in the twittersphere.

Also beautiful right now is this Rosa Madame Isaac Perierre.  The name always makes me smile as it reminds me of a segment I once saw on TV. Alan Titchmarsh was touring a garden with a forceful old dame who pruned her roses with electric shears and had some beautiful specimens.  As she showed Titchmarsh a Charles de Mills rose he said something like “Oh yes I know Charles”.  This continued with various other eponymous roses.

The personification of roses as if they were dinner party guests was amusing and I’m fairly certain Madame Isaac Perierre featured somewhere in the dialogue.  Who wouldn’t want Madame Perierre at their table?

New Rose

Rose Felicite Parmier

Rose ‘Felicite Parmier’

Last week some friends gave me this wonderful rose with small but highly scented flowers.  It’s called ‘Felicite Parmentier’ and is an old shrub rose dating back to 1836.  It’s a darling flower with very pretty form and a delicate pink colour.  These friends propagated this plant from cuttings and I’m a lucky beneficiary.

Rose Felicite Parmier

Rose ‘Felicite Parmier’

I’ve planted it in the Old Herb Garden and I think it’ll enjoy the conditions down there.


Dahlia buds

The Old Herb Garden is one of my favourite places for growing dahlias and they seem to enjoy the sunny conditions there.  If the warm weather continues, my first Dahlias will open soon and many promising fat buds are developing.  Almost all of these overwintered in situ. I’ve written about how I care for dahlias here but the downside of this method is that the new shoots are often munched by slugs and snails as they emerge through the soil.  Bizarrely, just one plant has suffered. dahlia shoot eaten by slugs

It’s possible that it may continue to shoot but the damage is extensive.  I think this one is called Bacardi (from memory – no planting plan you see).  This must be a popular flavour for light night slimy revellers.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures of this section of the garden. Six on Saturday is a link up of gardeners from around the world, sharing the best of their gardens each week.  If you want to read other contributions to go to the page of host The Propagator.