Jul 242014
Lavender in front garden


This is my front garden, a couple of metres square and planted by the previous owners. For a few weeks in July it looks like a pint-sized patch of Provence and is much remarked-upon. I love it.

Compared to this time last year, it has attracted very few bees – last year, dozens and dozens of them were buzzing all over it; this year, I’ve only spotted two or three at a time. I hope they’re simply getting a ready supply of nectar elsewhere, and it’s not a sign of bee decline.

At some point the lavender will have to go, as it’s getting a bit leggy in places. But I might just plant more – it’s incredibly wind tolerant (the wind howls up from the valley sometimes), and is neatly evergreen when it’s not in flower. It even manages to obscure my recycling crate.

Oct 262013


There are hundreds of plants that could have been planted under the two front windows of this grand house, and yet the owners have chosen espaliered apple trees. They’re an unusual choice, but they work really well – the garden is quite formal, and they fit in nicely.

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Jan 132013


My friends Tim and Alan have recently moved to Brighton, where they’ve bought a house that is identical to the one they lived in in London. The only differences are that the new house is a bit larger, has a loft extension and was cheaper (natch). As all their furniture is in exactly the same place as it was in the old house, the effect is a tad disconcerting. I only remembered I was in Brighton and not East Dulwich when a seagull screeched outside.

I once mortally offended Tim and Alan by telling them that their London garden ‘could’ be very nice, when in their opinion it already was very nice (I’m not known for my tact). This time I was careful to keep quiet, but even Tim and Alan agreed that they’ll need to sort out their front garden at some point. It’s typical of so many terraces – less than a metre deep and currently consisting of some dodgy paving and some recycling bins.

This house, a few doors down, has dealt with this tricky space by filling it with big evergreens. The bamboo and fatsia are low maintenance and provide a screen against prying eyes. They also give lots of impact, even on a dark winter’s day.