Creating a Rose Garden

I haven’t posted a roundup post for the old house garden for a while because we have been busy creating a rose garden in the middle section of the old house garden.

I have blogged about the middle section of the garden before here

When we moved into the old house, the garden had been badly neglected but we could see what an amazing place it could be. It was dark and gloomy and we have spent the past 18 months concentrating on the garden before we can tackle the house.

The sad and gloomy greenhouse Feb 2016
The same greenhouse looking happier in Sept 2017
The dark and gloomy middle garden Feb 2016
The new rose garden Sept 2017

Now I could write a post explaining about how we created this garden but I must admit I find those types of posts a little tedious so instead I am posting lots of photographs so you can see the different stages. Do feel free to ask any questions though.

We tried to recycle patio slabs we already had but we did need to buy red pavers, a patio circle, cement, gravel, stones, compost and plants. As we did it all for ourselves we think we have spent about £800. We also saved money by going to a Nursery plant fair at the end of their season which saved us money on the roses and lavender.

The space in August
We used spray paint to divide the space and began to dig out.
This was tough work but it soon took shape. We borrowed a laser level at this stage to make sure we had our levels correct as the garden is on a slight slope.
The soil was added to the woodland area so that we could reuse it later (in fact we decided we quite like this ‘hill’ in the woodland area so have kept it and I have planted snowdrops and bluebell bulbs here.)
We added hard core to the areas and compacted it using a compactor. This was tough work as it all had to be brought in with wheel barrows. We then started on the retaining wall at the back.

We made the path next using pavers. The key here is to make sure they are level from the beginning. We had to use more hardcore and cement as we went along as the area was sloping and we wanted the path to be level.
We carried on laying the pavers working into the seating circle near the raised planters we had built in the Spring. Luckily our calculations were spot on!
We laid out the patio circle to see exactly where it had to go. It was important to match the lines of the slabs with the lines in the pavers.
We laid the patio circle in cement using a plumb line from the seating circle to make sure the centre of the circle was in the correct place. We then added brick pavers around the edge to link the two colours of stone.
We used gravel around the seating circle to neaten the edges here. The colour of the gravel and new stones matches the stones used in the raised bed.
We added a stone edge to keep the soil and gravel neatly in place.
We finally took the turf off and added manure and peat free compost. The area was almost ready for planting! At this stage we downed tools and went to a plant fair to buy our roses.
We wanted to incorporate an old bird bath that we found in the garden so decided to make it a focal point by raising it onto blocks. These were cemented in.
The bird bath was rolled into place -it is REALLY heavy!
I love the bird bath here and the birds are already using it!
The other seating circle was finished last.
Planting is always fun and I love the traditional look of roses and lavender together. All our visits to other gardens really helped us design this section of the garden.
The finished Rose Garden.

The roses we bought are: David Austin Olivia Rose, Generous Gardener and Brother Cadfael. I love the fact that these roses have peony type blooms and are pale to mid pink with a lovely old English scent. We also planted lavender. We have room for more so I will look out for other roses in the Spring but would welcome suggestions.

Oliva Rose
Dottie loves it too!

Already, I love this area! We hope to buy a couple of benches for the seating circle so that we can sit and enjoy this area. We are not sure at this point whether to add a table and chair set to the patio circle or we did think a large urn on a plinth may look better. What do you think?

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The Gardens of Alcázar of Seville: #MyGloriousGardens.

During a long weekend in Seville, we visited the Alcázar Palace on a gloriously hot day in August. Whilst the weather looks perfect in photographs, it was in fact 42 degrees centigrade and so our visit to the gardens was not as long as I would have liked as Siesta called! The good thing though about the boiling weather was that the palace was not crowded and we could amble around the gardens at our leisure.

The Courtyard of the Maidens. The orange trees are a fairly recent restoration as a medieval sunken garden was discovered here. The orange blossom must smell wonderful in the Spring!

The extensive gardens have undergone many changes in the life of the palace which was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1987. The gardens extend over seven hectares and are surrounded by walls of varying age and colours. The different areas of the garden reflect the periods of time that have passed since this glorious place was built. Over hundreds of years, areas of the palace and gardens have been extended and changed giving the whole complex distinctly different areas. In the main, the gardens are formal gardens with water being a major part of the Moorish design in the form of rills and pools. The gardens would have been planted to provide food for the palace but also for pleasure.

The many trees surrounded by formal hedging in the garden Garden of Vega Inclan.
Entrance into the Garden of Vega Inclan and English Gardens

Moving away from the Palace lay The Garden of the Poets with pools and rills of water.  The planting is of palm, cypress, myrtle, mulberries, magnolia, orange and lemon trees.

Rills of water are a major feature in this part of the garden known as The garden of the Poets.
Beautiful formal fountains
Mosaic tiled places to sit and admire the surroundings and rest in the heat.

The gardens of the Alcázar of Seville have undergone many changes. In the 16th century during the reign of Philip III the Italian designer Vermondo Resta introduced the Italian Mannerist style. He was responsible for changing an old wall into a viewing Loggia to enable visitors to admire parts of the gardens. This is a fabulous spot to take photographs of the garden as you get to look down and admire the views.

View towards the palace from the Loggia. The small orange building plays music
The Loggia was once an old wall.
View towards the main garden with pools.
A lovely and welcome shady spot!

Nearest the Palace buildings lies the Mercury Pond, named after the God, Mercury. This pool was made in 1586 and as it lies higher than other parts of the garden acting as a reservoir for many of the other water features nearby. This area of the garden is known as The Garden of the Reservoir.

The Mercury Pool in the Garden of the Reservoir
Lots of Koi Carp in the Mercury pond.
This section is nearest the Palace and has wonderfully decorated tiles and fountains.
The entrance to the old wine cellars were a cool place to sit.
The old wine cellars were stunning inside.

The Gardens of Alcázar of Seville were amazing and I would love to go back in the Spring to see the orange blossom and to visit without battling such boiling temperatures. So many kings and queens have walked in these gardens and there is so much history that one afternoon is not enough.

My advice? Take your time and visit for a couple of days.


One Messy Mama

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The Old House garden round-up: Flopsy Flowers and caterpillars!

So far, August has been very wet and cold in Wiltshire. Today was the first day for a while that we could enjoy the garden as it was lovely and sunny. I decided to quickly take some photographs of the garden so that it looked gorgeous in the sun however this was what we have enjoyed since Saturday!

Rain, rain and more rain!
Of Course, this really took it’s toll on the garden; especially the flowers. It also made everything grow like crazy!

The tower of beans fell down in the wind but there is still lots of beans to harvest!
The pumpkins are developing well.
My pumpkins, although developing large fruits, have also got mildew on their leaves and I’m worried that it will spread so I have removed the infected leaves and have my fingers crossed! It’s due to all the rain and humid conditions. The tomatoes, beetroot and peppers all seem to be happy as they are now producing fruits.

Cabbage White caterpillars
Now vegetable lovers will shake their heads at me but I actually planted these cauliflowers hoping to attract butterflies! I’m not too keen on cauliflower but I do love butterflies so am pleased that the cabbage white has laid her eggs on them! There are also some on my nasturtiums too but they have self seeded from last year and again, I planted them for caterpillar food!

Caterpillars on the nasturtiums
This seems to be a theme in the old house garden as we also have sawfly larvae on a small patch of roses….

Sawfly larvae on my roses
Although incredibly annoying, sawfly larvae are great food for ladybirds and I have seen many ladybird larvae eating the sawfly larvae so they can stay. I garden organically so I could take these little pest off by hand but I’m hoping the damage will be limited by encouraging natural predators.

The Rhubarb is now monstrous!
The rhubarb we planted last Spring is now enormous so we are hoping to harvest from it next year.

The apple tree is groaning with apples this year.
Now for the rest of the garden…

The meadow continues to be in full flower.
I love these Love-in-a-mist (Nigella) flowers. I found them as seed pods by the side of the road and planted them as seed straight into this area.
Tiger enjoying the garden. The grass has grown really long in places and is full of tiny frogs!
The cottage border is still in full bloom but the flowers are all flopsy from all the rain!
The Japanese Anemone are coming into full bloom. I love these as they are so pretty!
I replanted this plant stand last week, adding Dahlia and Hydrangea. I think it looks stunning and I’m really pleased with it.

My plant stand by the back door.
Lastly, here is a photo of my dear little Dottie dog taken with my new camera. I’m really pleased with it. Happy August everyone……in the next round-up there will be some changes to the Old House Garden. x

Dottie dog


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#My Glorious Gardens: Painswick Rococo Gardens.

For our Anniversary this year we decided to take a trip to The Painswick Rococo Gardens in Gloucestershire. When we were first married we lived near Painswick in a cute little cottage called Squirrel Cottage so have lovely memories of this area but have never been to the gardens.

Our wedding anniversary visit….
The Painswick Rococo Gardens
The Painswick Rococo Gardens are the only Rococo gardens left that are open to the public. Built in the 1740’s, they were created for the Hyett family to impress and entertain guests. Gardens at that time were in transition from the formal to the more frivolous with the idea that the garden was somewhere to enjoy and hold lavish garden parties. The garden has seen a significant restoration programme since the 1970’s based upon a painting of the original garden from 1748.

One of the fanciful garden building called The Eagle House which had to be totally restored.
One of the gorgeous gothic buildings to explore.
The gardens have a wonderful feeling of tranquility and are such a fabulous place to wander. There was a wedding taking place whilst we were there but it was not busy for a Saturday. It’s a garden to wander around or to take children to as they had a great trail looking for wildlife. There was a brilliant woodland walk and playground which younger children would love. Well behaved dogs are also welcome so next time Dottie is coming!

Duck pond with cute little white ducks.
The large duck pond was full of colourful dragon flies.
Part of the woodland playground
The kitchen garden was amazing and we loved the espalier fruit trees.

Views up towards the white gothic arch.
Espalier fruit trees.
Views across the kitchen garden
There was a delightful Plunge Pool where the water was crystal clear and looked so inviting! It was surrounded by shade loving plants such as large ferns and hostas.

Reflections in the Plunge Pool
The grotto in the shady garden
The large, white gothic arch is the star of the whole garden in my opinion; a photographers dream! It stands at the top of the hill looking down the valley over the garden. It’s certainly dramatic and I loved it!

The gothic, white Arch.
Hubbie looking out across the garden. I love the reflections in the pool.
What a place to spend an anniversary!
 The anniversary maze -how apt!

The Anniversary Maze
The rain was coming!
Painswick Rococo Gardens.
I would definitely go back here again as the heavens opened and our visit was cut short. It’s supposed to be beautiful when all the snowdrops are out In February so I would love to come back then.


One Messy Mama

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#My Glorious Gardens: The Monastery of Saint Gerasimos, Kefalonia.


During our stay in Kefalonia, we would often leave the teens to sleep and go out, just me and Hubbie. One morning, we woke up really early so we decided to take a drive into the hills around where were staying to see the vine yards and also The Monastery of Saint Gerasimos. To get there you must pass a garden with 40 wells!

The church was rebuilt after the earthquake in 1953
We went early on a Sunday so there were very few people there.

Saint Gerasimos lived in the 1500’s and is considered the patron saint of Kefalonia. Many believe that he will protect them from harm and cure their illnesses. Hence, there are many men named Gerasimos after him. The body of Saint Gerasimos is at the monastery. Kefalonians throughout the world still revere and pray to him. In 1953, immediately after a powerful earthquake on the island of Kefalonia destroyed 90% of the island, there were many claimed sightings of Saint Gerasimos throughout the island who is believed to have comforted and tended to the injured trapped inside homes and buildings.

It is a fascinating place and we were lucky to be able to go inside the small church that has been built over the cave where he set up the original monastery and where his relics are kept.

Inside where the relics of Saint Gerasimos are kept. Notice the beautiful frescos on the walls.

There is a hole in the chapel floor to the cave where Gerasimos lived.

Even though we were visiting early, there were still a few people there. Ladies have to cover their arms, legs and heads.


The entrance to the Monastery complex was stunning.
Beautiful Flowers.
The entrance.

The gardens were beautiful and lovingly tended by the nuns.

This tree was planted by Gerasimos himself in the 1520’s (you can just see the 40 wells in the distance)
During his feast day on August 16th, his coffin is moved under this tree.
The nuns keep lots of pots.
The nuns were watering their gardens whilst we were there.
Lovely gardens in the Monastery complex
More terracotta pots.
The view towards the various vineyards in the area.


I have no idea what species of bee or wasp this is but it was jet black! Kefalonia is known for its Thyme tasting Honey which is delicious. We saw some hives on our travels too…

Hives in the distance in the mountains.

This is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. We weren’t sure what it was at first! I admit I had to Google it!

It’s a beautiful and serene place to visit if you ever go to Kefalonia. We absolutely loved it.


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The Old House Garden Round up. 14th July 2017. It’s all about sunshine!

It’s been 2 weeks since my last round up and I’m going to take a 2 week blogging break so this will be my last post for a while.

The garden is in it’s prime at the moment. My Mother in Law is here to stay and I’m so pleased she has brought the sunshine with her!

Crocosmia is flowering now.
There is lots of Crocosmia so I’m going to divide these in the Autumn
I’m loving some of the combinations of colours
The Lupins have died back but this border is still glorious!
Butterflies have been abundant. This Gatekeeper looks happy!
Lots of bees
Cabbage White butterflies have laid their eggs all over my cauliflower but I don’t mind!
The pumpkin is going bonkers; it obviously loves this spot!
The broadbeans are reaching towards the sky!
Lots of flowers on the pumpkins

The peas have failed. They are covered in spiders and caterpillars and the peppers haven’t done so well. Still trial and error in the Old House Garden. We have lots of tomatoes and cucumbers though.

Phlox. They are so beautiful.
We have 3 different coloured Phlox.
I love some of the accidental colours mixes!
Cornflowers; such a vivid blue.
Roses are blooming.
Loads of Japanese Anemone are now appearing in drifts near the house.
I love that the Cosmos just keep flowering!

The meadow area has really taken off! I’m so pleased with this area as I just sprinkled lots of seeds in May hoping to cover this sad little area!

Meadow colour!
The insects are loving this area!
Tilly also loves the insects in this area!!

Another round up done! I shall leave you with my pets.

Dottie and “pig”

Happy summer everyone and see you in August for #MyGloriousGardens Linky party!


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The Palace Gardens of Versailles. #MyGloriousGardens

My sister, daughter and I took my mother to Versailles for her 70th birthday as a surprise. I won’t be blogging about that but I would love to share with you a post about the gardens and grounds. The Palace itself is huge and does not disappoint! It is a true palace with gold and marble, restored to it’s former glory since the French revolution. It is not until you see the grounds and gardens however, that you realise quite how much opulence and decadence there was from a time when France was THE superpower in the world at that time. Versailles is valued at over £50 Billion now so try to imagine the scale and size! A Russian Oligarch’s dream! It is over 500 hectares in size and is beautifully manicured and formal in design.

The Palace of Versailles from the front -this is what you see first. Well, apart from the cues of people!
This is the view down towards The Grand canal!
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It was a very wet weekend but it was still a stunning place!

It was such a rainy weekend so the photos are not quite as clear as I would have liked.

The beginning of the formal gardens
More formal gardens planted with annuals such as cosmos between formal Box Hedging.
The planting near the palace.

Louis XIV or the sun king as he was known, commissioned the designer, André Le Nôtre, to redesign the grounds of the palace as originally, it was a mere hunting lodge. Under the title Controller General of the King’s Garden, Le Nôtre began revamping the grounds of Versailles in 1662. His design formed a crucifix shape to which he added two parterres closest to the palace. These parterres were designed to reflect light into the windows of the Hall of Mirrors and have pools of water with statues of nymphs, men and children.

The parterres

There is a large canal which is over a mile long. This is called the Grand Canal after the one in Venice and Louis sailed gondolas on it. They also skated on it when it froze in Winter.

The view towards the Grand Canal and yes, we hired a golf buggy! What else to do in the rain?


There are 11 main, famous fountains. They have statues from Roman and Greek mythology surrounding them and various sprays and jets. Apparently, they were more spectacular during Louis XIV’s reign but couldn’t all be cascading at the same time so they would work when the royal family were passing! The largest is called The Apollo fountain.

One of the smaller fountains
The Mother of Apollo surrounds the fountain nearest the palace.
The Apollo fountain depicting the god on a chariot pulled by four horses and three men blowing horns.
One of the pools
The ballroom fountains.

As part of our ticket, you can stop and listen to the music that accompanies the fountain show.

The king enjoyed his morning breakfast and an Orangery was constructed to house orange, lemon and pomegranate trees. Many of the trees today are over 200 years old! The orangery was my favourite part; it is over 7.5 acres and is mind blowing! As we were visiting during the summer (!) the trees were outside.

The view of the orangery gardens.
All the trees were outside the Orangery for the summer months (together with a visitors stand for the evening fountain and firework show)
The huge Orangery is tucked under the balustrade.
Now, that is what you call a door! The door to the Orangery.
Photo trickery fun in the rain!

I hope you have enjoyed this post!

I have more…..

We also visited Le Trianon and Le Petit Trianon….


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