Before And After: The Rose Garden

The Unidentified Fir Bed is now a Cryptomeria Bed.

Cryptomeria bed

It seemed a simple, straightforward, task today to dig over the bed cleared yesterday, in preparation for planting. Not so. Beneath the top layer of soil; itself riddled with spun skeins of fine vinca roots; more rock, concrete, tiles, and snakes of perished rubber hose were buried. I got no further than digging this lot out and raking over the plot.

Stepping stones

Jackie then added access stepping stones dug out from the Weeping Birch Bed.

A number of my more recent readers have asked for before and after pictures of the work we have done in the garden. This has coincided with Margery having floated the idea of a feature on ‘The Making of the Downton Garden’ at The First Gallery. The Head Gardener would also like an album telling the story. I therefore made a start on one today. The subject is The Rose Garden, which is entirely our own creation.

The earlier pictures have appeared on previous posts, But I have decided to repeat them here. Links to those previous posts are given in brackets, should anyone wish to read the text that goes with them.


We begin with a view looking towards the south eastern corner of what was then the derelict kitchen garden. The left hand fence is covered with ancient clematis Montanas and thick-stemmed brambles. To our left, another particularly unhappy clematis struggles against the odds. Various box hedges struggle in very thin soil. A frame of some sort lies in the centre. (Not Fit For Purpose 26.6.14)


The Montanas on the left hand fence were held in place by a thick wire mesh nailed into our neighbour’s fence. Removing the mess was a lengthy and difficult process. (Escape From Alcatraz 5.7.14)


Not very far below the surface of the soil were the remains of concrete paths that I chose to unearth. That was the very least of that particular problem. Throughout the area large concrete blocks were interred underground. Many of these were placed vertically and were very difficult to extract. (Jack Russell 23.8.14)


There were also many buried bricks. All these materials were piled up in an ever-increasing heap. (A Deterrent 8.9.14) and The Bhagavad Gita 9.9.14)


By the time Aaron came on the scene, I had removed most of the greenery. He levelled the soil (Communing With Ponies 8.2.15) in preparation for the

Rose garden

garden we see today. Water butt and brick pile have been removed. Aaron has laid the paving. Various items of furniture have been added. And, of course, a few plants.

Sweet and sour chicken meal

This evening Jackie produced impressive sweet and sour chicken, chicken in black bean sauce and savoury rice with pork for our dinner. Chocolate ice cream was to follow. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pedro Jimenez


  1. Amazing progress! The before and after shots really do tell of all the hard work. I’m always astounded at what non-gardeners bury into the soil…bottles, lumber, concrete, utensils…it’s quite extraordinary

  2. An excellent montage of progress Derrick. I am very happy to see it all in one place too – and absolutely stunned at what you have produced in just over a year – once again respectful nods in the direction of the Head Gardener! <3 There is hope for us all!! 🙂

    1. Thanks Pauline, so exciting when it was all cleared down, I was able to research the best roses for the various positions in the garden, Most importantly they had to be scented, then disease resistant, in truth I began to research 2 or 3 months before it was anywhere near completion! Sometimes I just chose from the garden centre rather rashly, so have one or two rather black spotty and mildewy roses with a scent to die for, worth it tho’.

      1. My ‘planning’ usually changes radically when I’m in the garden centre too Jackie……… Still I am in awe of your planning eye and how it is all coming together. It’s such a pleasure to watch!!

  3. I’m so glad you showed us the progress; you both have done wonders and I bet there were a few evenings when you finished that you were the very personification of a human pretzel

  4. The work you two do in your garden is amazing. It’s a real labour of love…isn’t it? But what’s with all that rubber hose? The rose garden looks great and will surely be spectacular in time for the grand opening 😀

  5. LOVE seeing the progress laid out like this! Very inspirational and looking beautiful. 🙂 Did you use a metal detector over it at all? Or was it just rubble under there? I am imagining roman coins…but perhaps I have just seen too many episodes of time team…

  6. What amazing progress you’ve made. I bet your neighbors are glad you moved in–and you too, given all the satisfaction of creating so much beauty. I am a bit surprised by all the junk you keep digging up, but can understand the extant irrigation system, but the rest… Cheers for the new bed!

  7. I’ve been watching all this transpire, but when you lay it all out – you get an increased perspective on just how much work has gone into this wonderful garden! OUTSTANDING!!

  8. Son of a biscuit, Derrick! That is an incredible before and after. Kudos to both of you! And Aaron, too.

  9. Wow – that is no small task that you’ve accomplished – a fantastic transformation! Tackling that overgrown area must have been both intimidating, and at some point felt like an endless task. Your perseverance is inspirational. Heading out into my own mess later today, but I think I’d better make an appointment with my chiropractor first. Taking out big plants is back-breaking work!

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