Our new house is the first in a small estate reached via a short but steep road that runs up from the smaller of the two beaches in Cemaes. They say first impressions count, so I am extremely grateful to TNG, who has cleared the weeds and other detritus that you can see were completely obscuring the path in the image below. Strictly speaking this isn’t our (sole) responsibility, our property starts in a slightly blunted point just beyond the two enormous buddlejas. However, half of the remaining houses are holiday cottages and the road into the estate is private, so it seems reasonable for us to at least try to keep the path clear! Mind you, our next door neighbour warned us that this might result in holiday makers deciding to park there in the height of the summer, so we may end up putting some large pots full of something colourful there instead.
The first section of the garden, which lies behind the pond as you look out from the house, is an overgrown shrubbery. There’s a large and rather leggy Brachyglottis, which the RHS tells me I should prune in mid Spring, so I guess it will stay as it is for now.
As you carry on up the road the garden is dominated by the mophead hydrangeas so ubiquitous in coastal gardens in the UK. I’ve never been a particular fan, preferring the lacecaps, and finding them rather stiff shrubs. One can’t deny they make a dramatic statement though, and the flowers are wonderful in a vase.
The neighbours have told us that the the man who used to live here, and who dearly loved his garden, had established a full hedge of hydrangeas all the way along the wall. Apparently the son decided that the garden needed a more open view and chopped most of them down when the house went on to the market two years ago, otherwise it would presumably look more like this:
I’m glad I don’t have to decide what to do with something like that, but I’m pretty sure these mopheads of mine are staying, a sort of “homage” to the coastal gardens of my childhood holidays. Catch them in the right light, and they are really rather lovely – and never let it be said that I can’t be won over occasionally!
As you round the corner into the driveway you are greeted by the obligatory large patch of crocosmia, together with a rose. There is also a rather large bare patch, presumable from the hydrangea chopping, which has been filled with a selection of small heathers, conifers and vinca. I’ll leave you to guess what I think of that!
The section of border that runs alongside the driveway is dominated by a variegated shrub and a large conifer, neither of which I am a fan of. At all. Between them, they are choking a pretty hebe, another (very pink) hydrangea, and a Japanese anenome. I think these all deserve a little breathing space, and I am sure I can think of more interesting things to plant with them, but I am rather fond of the dark green evergreen.
I haven’t a clue what the dark green evergreen is, something which is becoming a common experience. This garden is full of plants that, even when I know I have seen them before, I can’t identify. I am spending a huge amount of time pouring through books and searching on line, which is how I know that silvery shrub with the yellow flowers is a Brachyglottis (a rather unfortunate name to be landed with if you ask me). Some, so far, are evading indentification, which is where you lovely people come in, I hope! For instance, I know this is really common, particularly in coastal gardens, and I know I will kick myself when someone tells me the answer, but please, what is this:
In fact, while you’re at it, how about this:
One plant I haven’t really mentioned so far, also a stalwart of coastal gardens in the UK, is the fuchsia. I have inherited lots. Actually, to be more accurate, I have multiples of two fuchsias, and a single rather lovely bronze leaved one currently being choked by the mopheads. I am distinctly unimpressed by one of the types I have lots of. None of the plants (I think there are six) have many blooms, and didn’t when we were here earlier in the year either. They may just be sluggish due to the lousy weather, and I’ll certainly not be going crazy and chucking them all. The second type is a classic hedging fuchsia, one I have seen lots of around here. We have a large and rather splendid one at the front end of the garden just before the congested shrubbery.
It makes for a pretty backdrop, and provides excellent privacy at this, the busiest time of the year in Cemaes. But it is in wrong place. This is the view from our dining table, which is set in a window at the front of the house looking out over the garden:
The fuchsia is perfectly positioned to block the view down to the sea. We have it from our bedroom window. We have it from the landing. If you strain, you have it from out in front of the house. But not from the lounge window, and certainly not from the dining table. At least, that was the case. I’m not getting rid of it, it will become part of my “homage” to the traditional seaside garden, and will provide great privacy. Elsewhere. But in preparation for the move, to encourage it to put down good strong roots in the warm late summer soil, I cut it back. Hard. And oh, what a difference!
This really doesn’t do it justice, and when you are stood up, say when walking through to the front of the house from the back, where we have the office, it literally stops you in your tracks. I am so very lucky. I also still have a lot of front garden still to guide your through, complete with mysteries, dilemmas, treats and surprises. A post for another day, methinks!