The Lost Gardens of Lincolnshire

Legend told of a long-lost garden in the wild depths of Lincolnshire, once very beautiful but now neglected and buried under decaying overgrowth. No human eye had fallen upon this historic garden for decades. An intrepid explorer from Edinburgh set out to see if she could find the mysterious Lost Gardens of Lincolnshire …
At the old house adjoining the alleged site of the Lost Gardens, she was met by an ancient a young and sprightly gatekeeper, whom she bribed with a silver farthing to show her the way to the legendary Lost Gardens. “If thou shalt find the Lost Gardens,” said the Gatekeeper, “I’ll reward you with a new pair of Felcos.”
At that, the Gatekeeper disappeared back into the old house, and the Intrepid Explorer turned to enter the Lost Garden. As she approached, she was met by a wild-haired, mad Lavender Bush who threatened to block her path. She reached for her weapon of choice, a pair of yellow-handled scissors, and snipped the lavender right back, before carrying on up the dangerous, overgrown path.
Her next task was to release the far right corner from the dreaded clutches of a megolamaniac pink geranium as well as a very bossy astilbe and lots of rosebay willowherb. She dug over the whole corner and discovered what appeared to be a delphinium, a thalictrum, and an Eryngium agavifolium buried under a forest of bindweed.
The Intrepid Explorer then heard a booming voice: “Who goes there!” She turned to face an enormous, mad clambering rose. “Looks like you need a haircut too,” she said, wielding her pruners and a ladder.
At the end of the first day, it was starting to look as though the legend of the Lost Garden of Lincolnshire could be true, and there WAS a beautiful garden hiding beneath the overgrowth.
By now the mad clambering rose had been fully tamed into submission,  as had an aruncus, and the path was beginning to look clearer. Three limoniums had been rescued from the clutches of the pink geranium, and the air was filled with the scent of a newly cut salvia.
The left half of the Lost Gardens still remained to be discovered, dominated by a beautiful but overbearing plumbago, and an equally overbearing spirea. The path was blocked by geraniums and clumps of grass, while brambles waited to attack the Intrepid Explorer at every moment.
But the Intrepid Explorer waved her trusty long-handled fork and snipped with her doughty yellow-handled scissors until the weeds started to be tamed.
The shape of the ancient Lost Gardens was starting to become clearer to the Intrepid Explorer. Hostas, asters, and eryngiums were released from captivity, while a lone Verbena bonariensis waved its arms in gratitude at being rescued from strangulation by bindweed.
The Intrepid Explorer then took out her edging tool, which gleamed in the sunlight that shone newly down upon the Lost Gardens, and cut the edges of the grass that bordered the ancient brick path that led from the old house into the depths of the Lost Gardens.
The Intrepid Explorer enjoyed doing the edges very much.
The final bit of path was the most challenging. It seemed that the wild overgrowth, not content with having smothered the gardens, was also holding the path in captivity. The Intrepid Explorer sharpened her weeding tool on her diamond tool sharpener until the edges glinted sharply in the sunlight, and then leapt into battle.
Soon the entire path was clear, and looked as neat as the day it was laid (give or take a bit of wonkiness at the edges).
Then the Gatekeeper emerged from the old house and got stuck in to the shredding.
Meanwhile, there was still a little way to go for the Intrepid Explorer. The final corner was full of brambles, bindweed, and very rude and belligerent armies of red valerian. A friendly but over-enthusiastic nepeta had swamped an agapanthus and a geum, and the geum had responded to this attack by self-seeding all over the place.
Furthermore, what had once been a small and polite clump of Ophiopogon nigrescens had now turned into a raging torrent that threatened to drown a tiny sedum and a blue-grey ajuga that stood dangerously close.


Having run out of room in the Lost Garden’s green wheelie bin, the Intrepid Explorer had filled boxes, tubs and baskets of non-compostable waste.
Finally, after three days of intrepid exploration, digging, wielding of dangerous and doughty weapons, and one or two wee mistakes (sorry about cutting through that wire and standing repeatedly on the oriental poppy, Mum), it seemed as though the Intrepid Explorer had at last uncovered the Lost Garden of Lincolnshire.
The End.


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  1. What immense fun, the fairy tale style approach made me laugh so much. Thank you!

  2. I do love a good before and after story. I love the new happier looking garden.

  3. Are you for hire????

  4. My goodness Joanna, you have worked hard and no doubt for nothing but your keep and a pair of new Felcos – I trust the Gatekeeper has kept you well? How exciting to rediscover plants that were all but lost – will your Mum be able to maintain it now you have beaten it into submission or will you be assisting in keeping on top of it? is the ‘megolamaniac pink geranium’ the very same that I now have the progeny of? Does your Mum know if it is Ann Folkard which is the name I was thinking of but couldn’t remember?

    • It is Geranium psilotemon, Cathy, with black-centred magenta flowers very like Ann F, but twice the height and much harder to pronounce.

    • Ah, it might well be the megolamaniac geranium, which has been well behaved in my garden (not quite as sunny and hot as Mum’s). Just keep a careful eye on it and divide it before it gets too enormous. The problem at Mum’s was a lack of time on her behalf to do just this.

      • Yes, will do – I have already split it into two but both plants are just waiting for a border overhaul before they are planted out. Are you on work experience again this week?

  5. Wow, a beautiful restoration job and I love the stonework.. I hope you will post some more photos next spring and summer.

  6. Bravo! What a transformation. Can I book you after Jude?

  7. Great job. That is one the reasons that I love to garden, instant gratification. As for bossy astillbes, well they deserve what they get.

  8. A fabulous tale, gardener conquers all 🙂 I do love a before and after challenge. You did an amazing job, love the end result

  9. Brave lass! You conquered the wilderness. 😀
    What an amazing transformation. How is your back?

  10. Bravo! Both the story and the work…

  11. That border is 15 yards long and 3½ yards wide and Jo cleared it at a rate of 5 yards a day, to include weeding and edging the path and several other jobs not mentioned. She got stuck in every morning before breakfast while her porridge cooled, and worked till dusk. What a feat!
    Thank you very much Jo for sorting my border, I’m really looking forward to seeing it at its best next summer. Meanwhile I can now see the gaps I have to fill.

  12. What a fabulous effort.
    Fancy an Isle of Wight sojourn next?

  13. Yes, will do – I have already split it into two but both plants are just waiting for a border overhaul before they are planted out. My absolute pleasure xx

  14. This is a lovely tale and so hits the gardener lover’s soft spot. I’m new to your blog and have spent the past week or so reading through from the start. I’m so enjoying your photos, words and gardens. I love taking photos of my plants and parts of my garden which I post on Face Book occasionally, I’m not sure how to write a blog though I will have a go one day. Thank you.

    • Thank you ever so much for your kind words and compliments. I am so glad you enjoyed reading through my blog. It’s not so hard to write a blog, and I find a great deal of inspiration and motivation through both writing my own and reading other people’s, so do have a go some day!

  15. I love taking photos of my plants and parts of my garden which I post on Face Book occasionally, I’m not sure how to write a blog though I will have a go one day. I’m convinced that yoga will keep us young and vital.

  16. I love taking photos of my plants and parts of my garden which I post on Face Book occasionally, I’m not sure how to write a blog though I will have a go one day. I’m convinced that yoga will keep us young and vital.

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