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Overwhelmed by my acre..can you advise?

(102 Posts)
WizardOfToss Wed 25-Feb-15 16:38:44

I'm not a complete beginner, but I've had a small garden previously, so most if it was given to veg beds, chickens, evergreen borders and pots. Lots of lovely colourful pots on the patio. I do know about container gardening at least..

But now I'm having to change my entire mindset. We have an acre! We've been here a year now, and I followed advice and did very little last year apart from re-lay paths, get standing water away from the house, and my beloved pots! Oh, and planted fruit trees. We wanted to see where the sun was, what came up etc (having moved in winter).

Well I'll tell you what came up - weeds! I want to start getting to grips this year. I've got a lot of ideas and there's masses of potential. Just feeling overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it!

Garden facts: in Cornwall, so warm, wet and fertile. Lots of established trees. River running through the garden. Some lawn. In woodland, at the bottom of the valley, so gets the sun late in autumn and winter and has lots of shade, as well as very sunny spots. Has a very wild feel, which I like.

Any wisdom to share? In particular is it best to just completely clear an area, even if it has some established plants amongst the weeds, bracken, bramble and dock, or should I try to save things?

I don't have a massive budget and can't afford a regular gardener, but could get someone in for one off jobs like clearing ground. I do have time to spend on it though.

Phew - that was an essay. Thanks if you got to the end! smile

Ferguson Wed 25-Feb-15 22:48:15

No time now, but will return in day or two with suggestions.

ToddleWaddle Wed 25-Feb-15 22:55:18

Sounds idyllic. We also have an acre with a new build. Previously had a well maintained small garden.
We are in a windswept area so have consulted a few localish landscape architects for advice and plans. Have settled on a knowledgeable likeable one and are getting full plans drawn up.
I think left to our own devices so many plants would fail and we will save on planting costs as he will get plants at wholesale prices etc.
Fingers crossed it works out. So far so good.

DeliciousMonster Wed 25-Feb-15 23:02:08

Can i mention permaculture? For when you are designing it.

How lovely, an acre in cornwall. Well jell.

CuttedUpPear Wed 25-Feb-15 23:07:52

My advice, with all the extra work you now have, is to get everything out of those pots and into the ground.
You don't need to container garden now and I doubt you'll have the time.

WizardOfToss Wed 25-Feb-15 23:11:18

Thanks for replies! Keep it coming!

DeliciousMonster, I know nowt about permaculture apart from what I saw once on TV. Please say more..

funnyperson Wed 25-Feb-15 23:43:44

Liking the river/valley thing

When I see a country garden what I like best is when it makes the most of the views and the natural lie of the land.

The other thing I like is when they have little garden 'rooms' which lead one to the other, and terraces from the house to the garden and verandahs to sit in and look at the garden.

Anyway if it were me I would start with plants near the river purely because it would be such a new thing to me and I've always wanted to plant water plant like yellow irises and lilies and hostas and I would create a little pool for water lilies. And I would plant loads and loads of snowdrops and species primroses on the valley banks.

I would have a croquet lawn somewhere and a sunken round place for a theatre where people could sit round and watch a play.

funnyperson Wed 25-Feb-15 23:45:45

If I could I would create a natural swimming pool

WizardOfToss Thu 26-Feb-15 10:08:06

I love the idea of a sunken theatre!

I probably should have said, we're in a SSSI and so can't do anything to river banks at all, including new plants. There's loads of bluebells and wild garlic in spring though, so more than happy with that. Also wood anemones, tiny wild daffodils and bluebells in the wood.

I really want to work with all this wildness but not have a whole acre of shaggy weeds!

Methe Thu 26-Feb-15 10:13:39

Have you ever been to The lost Gardens of Heligan? That's a very woodland setting and might give you some ideas? Also, have look at woodland gardens on pinterest and see if that sparks something in your mind.

I'd love an acre envy

poppyseedhead Thu 26-Feb-15 10:21:50

Do you know any of the plants you have? If a plant/shrub is in a nice place, growing well, i would try to work around it, as it is hard to get a good look in a border with all new planting. Established plants can give nice anchors to work around.

Are you on sand or clay?

Look in neighbours gardens, see whats growing well.

I would tackle 1 bed/border at a time.

1 good tip, borders viewed along, as opposed to side on look better!

Also would love to have this "problem" myself!

DeliciousMonster Thu 26-Feb-15 14:43:43

Have a read of this will explain it better than I can

WizardOfToss Fri 27-Feb-15 08:00:18

Thank you for the replies!

I've got camellias, azaleas, heathers, ferns as well as stuff I have no clue about in the borders. I think one border at a time is a good plan. I need to be realistic about how long all this will take (many years?!) but not let it get completely out of hand in the meantime!

I started clearing one area yesterday - so many brambles - to reveal primroses and snowdrops smile.

WizardOfToss Fri 27-Feb-15 08:03:32

Oh, and soil is slightly acidic (as you'd expect from the plants), no clay. Everything grows like stink. Especially weeds!

WizardOfToss Fri 27-Feb-15 08:11:22

That link is great, Delicious, thank you. The idea chimes with what we'd like to head towards - being off grid. We have oil fired central heating, the cooker runs on calor, we have a woodburning stove, and water from a spring.
Electricity is on grid. Long term aim is to convert all energy sources to wood, as we have the woodland to draw on (free!), plus solar and a generator.
It's an adventure!

shovetheholly Fri 27-Feb-15 14:23:58

shock It sounds like heaven! Would love to hear how you approach and develop it! Please keep posting.

WizardOfToss Sat 07-Mar-15 17:37:02

Hi there, I've been out in the glorious sunshine today, thought you might like a few pics of an area I've cleared (terraced over the septic tank), general view of part of the garden, and the river. Feeling more optimistic generally now!

Methe Sat 07-Mar-15 17:52:55

That looks idillic! Lucky you! envy

WizardOfToss Sat 07-Mar-15 19:01:00

Thank you!

Yes I pinch myself sometimes. No one else wanted it, would you believe?

Ferguson Sat 07-Mar-15 19:54:06

Hi - I've been meaning to comment for a while, but didn't have anything beyond what others have been saying really.

But - Yes, the photos are super, and spurred me to reply:

BBC2 Gardeners World (currently on i-Player) had good 'winter garden' feature from Wisley; Cornus (dogwood) with red and yellow stems, Hamamelis in different colours, and Viburnum.

Enjoy the snowdrops, as ours (in Devon) are starting to go over now. If you want more of them, (just in case you don't know), they are the easiest things to lift, when flowers are all over, divide, and spread out and replant to cover a MUCH larger area; even 'baby' bulbs can be put back in, and will flower in a year or two.

Also at this time we have hellebores, a black one being our favourite (dark purple really), and pulmonaria, very hardy and can be divided and spread around easily, in normal pink/blue colours but also pure while, and a dark blue. Pulmonaria 'Majestee' brings light into darker corners:

And just starting into flower we have Ipheion Charlotte Bishop:

funnyperson Sat 07-Mar-15 22:48:14

Oh woft you have the loveliest garden, terraces and stream. I want to be aged 7-12 and run around it!
You mentioned that camellias grow so I think that magnolias would too, as would azaleas and lavender

florentina1 Sun 08-Mar-15 06:54:18

I don't have any advice, just wanted to say how jealous I am, but your description made me feel like I was there. There is website called GrowsonYou where lots of lovely amateur gardens blog, answer questions and post photos. Sort of Mumsnet for gardeners. Can't wait to hear more about your progress.

WizardOfToss Sun 08-Mar-15 09:17:45

Ah, you lot are lovely! I'm feeling inspired now! Definitely going to look at the website (I need all the help I can get), and divide my snowdrops. They're just starting to go over now.

Pulmonaria sounds good, as we have a lot of shade. Ferguson, do you also grow hostas?

I'll keep posting, it's lovely you're interested! I had a great time yesterday messing about in the river (it's less than knee deep in most places), playing with the flow of the (very modest) waterfall using rocks and slate. smile

Ferguson Sun 08-Mar-15 19:43:22

OP - yes, we used to have a selection of hostas: different colours, textures and sizes, including tiny ones - but eventually they ALL fell victim to the dreaded slugs and snails.

It is the other end of the country from you, but this is an interesting garden, and has a
selection of links (though I haven't checked if they all work):

funnyperson Sun 08-Mar-15 21:31:51

Oh yes playing with the stones is important: did you see that garden programme where they kept repositioning the stones so as to get a more musical sound?

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