Knocking Through

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I’ve been a bit quiet of late and that’s because I’ve been buying a new house. We are not moving, but knocking through into a neighbouring property to give us more space ….. and more garden. Most of you will find it hard to get excited about the prospect of an extra 20ft by 20ft of growing space, but for us that’s almost double what we have now, and with a sunnier, south-westerly aspect the possibilities seem endless. This weekend Architect Guy, brother of Him Indoors, is drawing up plans which will include a library for all my gardening books and a conservatory. I am finding it hard to contain my excitement. No doubt budgetary constraints will bring me rapidly back down to earth!

Polegate Cottage, greenhouse, June 2015

In the new garden we have inherited a rickety aluminium greenhouse, a rather fine deep red rose, a beautifully scented jasmine, an unusual fuchsia with red-veined leaves, promising clumps of Nerine bowdenii, a plastic pot filled with pink and red bedding geraniums and about 6000 snails. This is obviously where they came when I evicted them from next door. Two sheds and the greenhouse are precariously wired up with all manner of electrics, none of which look particularly safe, so our first job was to cut them off.

Callistemon, aloe and aeoniums, June 2015

By rights I should not be attempting to do any gardening until the two houses have been converted into one. The new house, known as Polegate Cottage, has not been updated for about 35 years, so needs everything done to it – new wiring, new central heating and complete redecoration. It’s hard to believe that two such different properties could be so close to one another. Our house is light, bright and cheerful; next door is gloomy and dated. There will be a lot of mess and expense before I can really getting going on the garden, but in the short term I have succumbed to the usual temptation and started filling it up with pots of the kind plants I’d like to grow there eventually.

Red rose, Pollenate Cottage, June 2015

Being sunnier than our existing garden I am thinking of drought-tolerant Mediterranean and Antipodean plants which will save on watering. I have started with a bottle brush (Callistemon citrinus), Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius ‘Silver Jubilee’ (inspired by Beth Smith at Foamlea) and Cestrum fasciculatum ‘Newellii’ which has given a me a foundation of silver foliage and red flowers. On that I have built a collection of plants with interesting foliage colours, including fabulous Tradescantia ‘Purple Sabre’, Begonia ‘Benitochiba’, Sempervium ‘Virgil’, Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ and my long suffering aeoniums which have been temporarily stricken by vine weevil damage.

Begonia, hibiscus, tradescantia and plectranthus, Polegate Cottage, June 2015

Our existing garden is resolutely green, and the previous owner of Polegate Cottage had a penchant for burgundy red, so I am using this new space as an opportunity to experiment with combinations of magenta, plum, scarlet and aubergine. A purple leaved canna surrounded by red nemesias and helichrysum will not be drought tolerant, but will enjoy the sunshine and shelter. Meanwhile I have moved other cannas and hedychiums around to the new garden to bring them on a little faster in readiness for our National Gardens Scheme open weekend on August 1st and 2nd.

I am looking forward to posting regular updates on our new coastal garden and the plans for its future layout. All bright ideas welcomed!

Polegate Cottage, pots, June 2015


Categories: Container gardening, Flowers, Foliage, Our Coastal Garden, Plants, Small Gardens

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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36 comments On "Knocking Through"

  1. So exciting! How I wish I could knock into my neighbour’s garden in my Dublin city centre house, though I do have a Library (and filled with gardening books!) which compensates I suppose. Look forward to watching your progress.

    1. Thank you! We were very, very lucky to get the opportunity. Once in a lifetime I reckon as we are slap bang in the town centre. I am so excited about having a library and creating a home for all my shelves and piles of books.

  2. So excited to see the new project and bottle brushes!! It you are heading Antipodean!, maybe you could consider some grevillas – some of the prostrate varieties are lovely and don’t get as woody as the ‘bush’ types. C u soon!!!!

  3. How very exciting! And I’m obviously looking forward to seeing some Antipodean plants in there. I think you might be surprised how drought tolerant your Canna and Nemesia pot will be: whilst ‘they’ always say they need plenty of water (and they look as though they do, too), I grew both in Canberra, which is ultra dry, and both thrived despite enormous neglect from me!

    1. That’s encouraging Janna. Our garden only gets watered twice a week so anything that can’t hack it normally dies or gets replaced. I try to use the biggest pots possible and then group them closely so that they create a humid climate in between. That seems to help. Smaller pots are reserved for succulents that have built-in water reserves.

      I will only start collecting in earnest when the garden is finished (maybe next summer?) but any tips welcome. We get sun from 11 until about 6 in summer, it will be less in winter but I hope to bring a lot in when the conservatory is finished. I mustn’t do too much too soon as the builders will trample it all!

      1. Euphorbia, Salvia, Hemerocallis, Nerium, Limonium, Nepeta, Saxifraga, Correa, Ceanothus, Escallonia, Feijoa and Gaura will all be your friends in very dry sun. And you must try some Anigozanthos….one for the conservatory over the winter, but stunning and very easy to germinate. You are going to have such fun!

      2. Ah yes, the kangaroo paws. I think those are available here, but growing from seed is probably a good way to start. One of our neighbours grows Feijoa as a hedge and I always look forward to it flowering. I think I might copy them. As luck would have it I have a tray of baby gaura which need to go outside soon 🙂 Thanks for all your suggestions Janna.

  4. Oh my how can you contain your excitement. Wow! I’m loving these reds popping off this post – gorgeous. This is going to be fun for your readers to travel along this journey with you. The nurseries in your area have probably all got you on a ‘hit’ list to see who can help you out the most with your new landscaping needs. 🙂 There will be more room for Martha when she visits. Maybe you can put a swing up in the conservatory somewhere. There’s nothing like a inside swing to make a niece swoon. 🙂

    1. I am very excited Judy. I appreciate there is not a lot to see at the moment, but there is bags of potential. Martin the Garden Centre Man has already claimed me a his best customer but lets me use his wheelbarrow for carting compost about so I don’t mind spending my pennies with him. Funny you should mention the swing (which I had not thought of) but we were only saying yesterday that one of the new bedrooms will have to have her name on it. Her first visit will be August so she’ll have to bunk up with mummy in the meantime. Swing on the list with a high chair, stair gate and powerful stain remover 😉

  5. Oh, how exciting. Another Antipodean here, your bottle brush in the pot looks extremely healthy. I also love burgundy and silver coloured plants together. I will be waiting for your updates with anticipation.

    1. I had a choice of a few bottle brush plants and I thought this one looked the most compact and bushy. We had a standard one once but I am afraid it became a little neglected and spidery. I aim to look after this one better.

  6. Hi Janna And TFG…. We have had a lot of success with correas too. They survive with little water and some extremely dry hot weather. We have them in a very exposed position and they have survived 44 degree heat in summer and then some very Canberra like weather with heavy frosts and chilly temps of -3. Have not been able to find a nice white salvia that will work with current plantings. Any suggestions gratefully received!

    I have Walkers Blue nepeta planted between my roses and in both my veggie patches to attract the bees, to help with pollination. They have had to put up with some very extreme weather conditions in the past two years and have thrived. Have just finished pruning them back to almost nothing at the weekend, and when I did this last year, they exploded in spring and I had to prune again in summer. They are extremely hardy and make a fantastic show.


    1. Great, thank you Helen! Correa is on the list, it will fit in nicely. I am also thinking about leptospermum, which I always admire in Cornwall but rarely see elsewhere. I worry that nepeta will sprawl around too much in a confined space (I already have Him Indoors to do that) but sounds like you know how to keep yours under control 😉

  7. Congratulations and good luck on the renovations and new garden plans – delighted to hear that I am not alone in buying plants and dreaming of the garden to be even before the builders have come and stomped their big feet everywhere! Sounds as if it will be fabulous

    1. I am sure I will. We have already bought a painting for the new house as a sort of congratulations to ourselves gift. This is very silly considering it’s going to cost a lot to do the work ….. and now I have my eye on some vintage library steps. Oh dear!

  8. How exciting! My best wishes for the new project with all that new space to expand into. I will enjoy reading future blogs as it all unfolds.

  9. What a wonderful adventure you are going to have! I hope that renovations and decorations don’t bring too much expense and mess.


  11. Your new situation has been a recurring daydream of mine for years — not to move elsewhere, but to expand and take over the neighbors’ properties! I’m so glad to learn this actually does happen. My vote for a spot in your new greenhouse would be the silver Pachystegia insignis.

  12. Congratulations on the purchase. I think it is every gardeners dream to acquire as much neighbouring land as possible!
    If your neighbour can grow a feijoa hedge, then most kangaroo paws will do just fine outside as will many other tender plants. Acacia cognata ‘cousin itt’ could give a nice contrast to the burgundy tones, and many of the leptospermums will give that lovely burgundy growth. Some of the Phormiums will also give that colour and will be super tough in pots. Syzigiums often have red new growth, do well in pots and can be trimmed into formal shapes. If you are after a real show-stopper, then it would be difficult to go past Hakea Victoria with large multi-coloured leaves that is tolerant of quite heavy frosts (-8C)

    1. Thanks! I see from a recent post that things are pretty chilly where you are? It’s due to be quite warm here this week so frost seems like a distant memory. That Acacia is quite marvellous. I have never seen anything like it before. Does not look especially available in the UK, but when I have the space I will try to track it down. Same goes for Syzigium. I’m blown away by the Hakea – what a bonkers plant. Again, doesn’t seem to be available in the UK. We are missing out on all the fun here;-). I have learnt two new plants today, so am a happy man. Thank you!

      1. My pleasure…if you have trouble hunting down A. cognata “cousin itt” look for “limelight” – a very similar cultivar. Kelways in Somerset stocks it.

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