The new look terrace bank

Ah, the bliss of having the internet back on. Wifi in the house. What an utter luxury.

We had a very dull five days without. Well dull isn’t quite the word. This farm is perfectly suited to 19th century living. But most of my creature comforts definitely revolve around access to the world on a screen.

So yes, I did spend more time doing non-screen chores (painting repairs in the guest house, more squishing of caterpillars just hatching on the kale). But actually I really missed the relentless flow of my podcasts. I do so love the outside world, curated in my ears.

Luckily I had downloaded a few Marian Keyes talking books for my mowing sessions.

There is nothing better! Mindless physical activity while listening to very articulate people in such far distant lives sorting their stuff.

I did take the time to photograph a part of the garden you rarely see. This is the potting shed north side pre makeover.

It’s the Terrace Bank. A garden behind the potting shed that rises steeply up to the top hedge. (And yes I do regret not shifting those blue buckets out of the way before I snapped. But they are full of water from a leaking gutter, and no plant wants a load of water poured over it this month.

I wrote about it in my Garden Tour section back in 2018. So do have a look at how I created it.

And yes, the ‘Must Update The Garden Tours Section’ is always at the top of every To Do list I write…

These gardens evolve!

Nature never stops. And this particular bank of rock is now evolving to a much shadier space.

And believe me, in a hot climate a shaded area is just bliss. But the plants are changing and I have rarely kept on top of the maintenance.

The hedge I planted is growing so lustily now that so many plants are either dying up there (here’s looking at you lysimachia) or growing towards the sun. And that means hard pruning.

The poor cotinus do not like being so shaded in this bank. I need to plant more elsewhere so they can thrive. But I do like the crimson in among the relentless green.

The phlomis love the little bit of all day sun in the gap between the potting shed and the hedge.

Getting as far as the cotinus or the phlomis to prune and add to the flower arrangements….. Oh my.

You can barely twinkle tiny feet in among all the shrubs.

That was the aim of course. To have a densely planted slope of flowers and foliage so that I can sit in my potting shed and gaze at the delights outside. Especially during this really busy growing season.

This winter I went at it. Hard.

I yanked out all the vetch, really cut back the santolinas and euphorbias.

Shifted sedums, pulled out the self seeded lunaria plants. For biannual seedlings they do have surprisingly well anchored roots.

(Sack of yellow floragard potting compost waiting to be dragged – 70 litres! – down the steps…Someone teach me how to photoshop. And to prune that damn eleagnus.)

And then I transplanted the many, many, many dianthus carthusianorum babies that self seed on the gravel path. Let’s call them Carthusian pinks, I trip over the latin every time I try.

They still win the prize as my favourite flowering perennial in this garden.

And for the first time ever I had to stake some of them as they have grown so floppy in the damp (well, wet) spring.

Now the plants are better distributed. They tend to grow in the sunnier bank right up against the potting shed and then drop seeds over the gravel which I tread on and feel really bad.

And they complement the crimson colour of the geraniums at the bank of the bed.


I bet you were expecting me to tell you which is this fabulous shade tolerant flowering-its-socks-off geranium that is thriving and taking over the Terrace Bank…

I wish I was too! Lost the label. Or were they a gift? I’m thinking Phaeum. But the leaf shape isn’t quite right.

This was the point of this tricky part of the garden. It was to quarantine all the plants I have been given as gifts. The only irksome thing about them is you can’t spot the oak seedlings that spring up in between the dense hedge of geranium until it’s almost too late in autumn. But that’s a small price to pay for a fabulous balance of flower and foliage.

In here among the geraniums are a strange clash of salvias and verbascums, and poppies and the santolinas which should have been shifted years ago but are now too entrenched. And a rose which never flowers but has invaded everywhere…. it doesn’t even flower! That was a gift from someone at St Pierreville who promised me it was a drought tolerant rose. She neglected to mention it fails to flower…

I will rogue that out later. I thought I had hacked back enough of it early spring. But it is taking over the path, a place which is a trip hazard at the best of times, even without the cat.

And I now know what rose I would rather have somewhere on this bank (and not where the non flowering rose has been.)

Charles de Mills.

My planted last spring roses have started to really put out their blooms and grow.

Of the dozen I planted up on the north side of the barn garden, this is the winner.

The whole group of roses are another blog post for next time.

Right now I have an appointment with my pruning tools.

I want to leave as many gaps in among these shrubs so I can transplant more Carthusian pinks over the winter.

Pops of colour in among … Now that’s an idea. The best thing about the flowering pinks is they are so tall they can battle up among these shrubs. Lifting the whole relentlessly green scene.