Marie and Tony's story 


Starting to re-landscape the whole garden

Time for change 1992

Three things galvanised us into action in 1992:

Our wonderful Rottweiler, Shona, died at the age of thirteen: it had been difficult to be serious about a garden with a dog nicknamed ‘Rotovator’!

The second spur was when, during a gale, our neighbour’s 55-foot mountain ash tree paid our garden an unexpected visit and pollarded the only good fruit tree we had.

The third incentive was the realisation that, despite our best efforts, the Leylandii hedge was becoming overgrown and difficult to keep tidy, and over the years the problem was only going to get worse. Despite a back injury, Tony cut the Leylandii trees in height, giving us the option to have a much lower hedge.  However, we quickly decided we needed to be ruthless and totally remove all the Leylandii.  Over to pickaxe wielding Marie who quickly and efficiently removed sixty-five tree trunks and all their roots!

Relandscaping 1992 - 1995

The children were growing up fast and developing other interests, including barbeques and outdoor parties with their Sea Scout friends. 

We decided to create a garden not only for our family but also to be exciting in all four seasons. 

We experimented with various plants and noticed which ones were succeeding.  This has led to us choosing many of them as key features in our current planting themes. 

Influenced by our visits to Winterbourne and Exbury, in our previous home we had started collecting acers and azaleas and were delighted that the neutral to acid soil of our new garden favoured these plants. 

We started re-landscaping at the top of the garden and worked our way down to the bottom between 1992 and 1995. The square lawn edges were softened into curves and the paving extended to match. 

Our children’s footsteps showed us where new paths and steps were needed!

Relandscaping upper garden 1993/94

In 1993 we removed some of the larger trees and also the low wall at the end of the patio.

Tony extended the yorkstone patio area, merging it with the lawn and creating curves.

The square lawn softened with curves.

Old conifers gone, new plants arriving

Relandscaping middle garden 1993/94

The middle garden was dominated by 16 elderly apple and pear trees, none of which bore tasty fruit, and the ground underneath was bare.  

We took out three of the fruit trees and experimented with a new planting scheme around the remaining thirteen fruit trees.  However, we soon found that each of those trees was occupying a prime planting position and thwarting development of a new scheme. 

We decided to bite the bullet and remove all the old fruit trees, including their roots.  Certainly, it did turn out to be even more of a challenge than we had anticipated since some of the roots of the pear trees seemed to get even wider as they went deeper!

However, we very quickly appreciated all the effort we had taken to clear the trees once we started replanting.

Relandscaping lower garden 1995

We continued our relentless progress down the garden.  We experimented by planting six trees in the lawn of the lower garden.  Although the children were very disappointed that they weren't big enough to use as tree houses, in reality they were becoming teenagers and their main recreational activities were quickly moving away from home to other locations, including Sea Scouts. 

We were used to negotiating a swing, a shed and a concrete greenhouse base when we cut the lawn in the lower garden.  However, after the tree planting, cutting the lawn with an electric mower became more of a challenge due to the extra risk of entangling the electric cable.

It was not long before we realised it would be best to remove the lawn in the lower garden and this would give us a wonderful opportunity to create a totally new garden area.  We decided to rip up all the turf and to rotovate. 

The turf went for composting and all the family had great fun churning up the soil with the hired rotovator!  

We also removed the redundant concrete greenhouse base and also a considerable amount of buried rubble. We had issues at the Council's tip when they said we had taken too many car loads in one day - they thought we must be contractors!

We decided to continue our theme of conifers, acers and azaleas, mixing evergreens and deciduous and also contrasting the colours red, blue and yellow.  Conifers would be carefully chosen!

Walsall Arboretum can be seen through the fence at the lower end of the garden.

Our ‘secret weapon’ - workhorse and plantmobile for 21 years! Observers watched with amusement as our people carrier car went by with trees poking through the sunroof! 

In 2013 some of these trees were featured in the BBC Great British Garden Revival (trees episode.)
Our young garden was beginning to develop
Our children said we we needed a path through from the lawn to the middle garden
So we created a path!


Making the garden child safe and friendly


Building the streams, summerhouse, pagoda and creating the jungle


Achievements, our garden now