The Garden

We moved into our Durham garden in 2005. We live in the Sands, looking north, with a fine view of the East Coast mainline. It’s north-facing, sloping, with 4 mature Silver Birch, a Leylandii, and a quarter of a huge Scots Pine. It was already a mature garden and I inherited a lot shrubs.

I also started a course in arboriculture at Houghall College. This informed my views and direction a lot.

I removed the rhododendron, spotted laurel, and a few other functional but unexciting low-maintenance shrubs. I’ve planted a lot of chaos in its place. It’s about time I made a list.

Garden Species: Plants

Scientific NameCommon NamesNotes
Arum maculatumLords and Ladies, cuckoopint, jack in the pulpit ...A single plant has appeared underneath a blackthorn.
Berberis darwiniiDarwen's BarberryIt's always been here. I'm guessing since the house was built. Big and cheerful.
Rhinanthus minorYellow RattleFirst had the idea from Gardeners' World 2020 but no success until this year Summer 2022.
Carpinus betulusHornbeamPlanted a small group of three Summer 2022

Copy of Garden Species: Birds

Scientific NameCommon NamesNotes
Erithacus rubeculaRobin

Species List

Araceae

Arum maculatum

Lords and Ladies, cuckoopint, jack in the pulpit, … and many more.

This is a surprise. It has appeared underneath a blackthorn. Not sure how it propagates, but I didn’t plant it. Lovely to see it anyhow.

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Berberidaceae

Berberis darwinii

Darwin’s Barberry

I only got round to identifying this recently when what I thought was a smallish tree came down in a storm. The tree was more of a shrub and I tried to take some cuttings from the wreckage. They didn’t take, but there’s no shortage of it around here. It seems to like it. Like a lot of plants, once you recognise it you start seeing it everywhere.

The root of the tree lifted and didn’t settle even though I took as much weight of what was left as possible. I don’t know if it suckers but there are bits and pieces all over the place so I’m expecting it to re-appear in the pool of light that has appeared. And in July 2022 I see buds on the original stem. Perhaps it’ll coppice. That’d be nice.

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Betulaceae

Carpinus betulus

Hornbeam

I’m not sure why I’ve not planted this before as I’ve got a lot of beech and it’s easily prunable to a reasonable hedgerow size, and I like hornbeam a lot. I picked up three from Dobbies and kept them in their pots for a few weeks in the hot weather, which they didn’t like much and I thought I’d lost them. Planted them out summer 2022 where there’s a gap from the Berberis darwinii lost in the storm. I thought I’d lost them all but there’s green shoots. It’s a great thing to see. Flashes of green amongst dead brown leaves on a plant you’re convinced is dead. Fingers crossed.

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Muscicapidae

Erithacus rubecula

Robin

They’ve always ignored the nestboxes. But they must nest somewhere.

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Orobanchaceae

Rhinanthus minor

Yellow Rattle

I’ve always fancied a meadow and the semi-parasitic ‘Meadow Maker’ Rhinthus minor is an obvious choice. Monty Don sowed some around 2020 on an edition of Gardeners’ World and I decided to give it a try.

No luck until this year. Summer 2022 is looking good. Key things to success in my garden were:

  • Late-as-you-dare mowings in Spring to help the Yellow Rattle outcompete the competition and get established.
  • Cut back anything that crops up that could out-compete. In my garden this was mostly Cow Parsley, which I like and usually leave.
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