Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Steep slopes are not always a bad thing....

Most of us groan and grumble about our sloping gardens, and the expense of putting in terracing and retaining walls, but it can have a surprising advantage: one of "my" gardens is an old thatched cottage, set on a very steeply sloping bank.

The front lawn slopes down steeply toward the house...

...and at some point, someone built a stout retaining wall, to keep the soil back from the house, thus creating a level pathway all around the cottage.

Which had the added benefit of creating a breast-high wall.

Either by luck, or design (I'm not sure which), the top of the wall is just below window-ledge height, which means that when you are inside the cottage, you are not looking out at a blank wall: instead, you are looking across the bed, more or less at soil level.

It's hard to get a photo to show this, as most of it is covered in greenery from the exuberant planting, but in the  photo above, you can just see the tail end of the retaining wall, at it's lowest point, where it edges the steps rising up to the front gate: and the wall rises in height as it goes away from this point of view.


This photo - right - was taken while I was standing on the path: you can see the irregular-width stone slab on the top of the wall.

And you can see that I am looking across the bed -  but instead of looking down on it, it's at eye height !

This makes for easy weeding - no bending over here! Well, not from this side, at any rate - and in spring, we get a chance to see the low-growing flowers up close and personal. 

This effect was achieved by starting with Lavender, Sedum and Hellebores for height, and underplanting with crocus and snowdrops, with Primroses at the near edge. 

In summer, the standard “Samaritan” roses take centre stage, and all this lovely jumble of colour has disappeared completely: instead, we have a couple of large Peonies ("Molly the Witch") and a swathe of sharply upright Iris and Gladiolus.

But early in the year, on a blustery day, the owner can enjoy this view from safely inside the window!

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