Dog-Path Garden

 The apricot roses in this photo were specially bred for New Zealand Dressage.
roses and flaxes - from the archives

New borders in my garden are often self-developing, like the Dog-Path Garden over the water race. When the energy level of the gardener-digger drops, the new garden is temporarily finished. A few weekends later, with some spare roses needing a home, digging is happily resumed.

Creating a new look for different areas of the garden required self-discipline, money, and a drawn up plan on paper. In the year 2002 my ideas for the Dog-Path Garden had one such. There would be an elegant, sweeping lawn (somehow, the 24 huge gum tree stumps were ignored in a designing frenzy). The mower would mow the grass right down to the water's edge (ignoring the gorse stumps from the old hedge). There would be balance (trees either side by the garage) and continuity - grass areas opposite each other, the water running discretely between, a watery version of a ha-ha.

Problems with Tree Stumps and Lawns

 This view is from the other side of the water race.
the dog-path - from the archives

Many things went wrong. First, the Non-Gardening Partner killed the watery ha-ha concept (my proudest design feature). On no account would he mow down to the water's edge. He suggested I plant a garden on the sloping bank. As a consolation he offered to remove some of the gum tree stumps, but offered his professional opinion that it would take years of rotting before lawn could grow over them. My image of elegant sweeping lawns faded.

I threw the plans out, and went on a plant-poking-in rampage. I dug along the water's edge and filled the sloping soil with assorted bargain bin shrubs. A dedicated rhododendron garden was also filled with other bits and pieces. More and more gum tree stumps were incorporated by digging, and more bargain plants (of whatever type was on offer) were fitted in. There was absolutely no discipline - this garden was out of control.

 Unless the Plank moves, this garden is finished.
the end of the dog-path garden

The Arrival of the Roses

Then I bought (very cheaply) rather a lot of bargain roses. The dog-path itself, with its low stone retaining wall, was pushed further and further along the water's edge. I had wonderful visions of dripping rose blooms above flowing water.

Oops. A tall red Phormium blocked the path, byut I shifted the path instead. I continued digging, and the first roses were moved in - a Gertrude Jekyll and two other unknown David Austin roses. I built a rough seat in the stones. So a large part of the Dog-Path Garden was now beautifully filled with roses.

When Will It End?

The Dog-Path Garden's physical expansion seems to have stopped, and it now houses a Koru shaped brick courtyard, and my modest collection of deciduous Azaleas. But when gardens develop themselves, who can possibly know when they're finished?

Tour the Dog-Path Gardens

To see the latest photographs, you can take a tour of the Dog-Path Garden.