Recovering from the 50 year storm…

The sun is out – hooray!

Like the rest of the House, our garden is a bit of a project.  When we bought the House, the garden was completely overgrown and full of weeds and non-native trees that didn’t fit with the conservation zone we live in.   We are in the process of landscaping the gardens, and this year we hope to build some raised beds to improve our self-sufficiency.  Part of this blog will be about the journey of the House and its garden, because watching it change and develop is one of my happiest pursuits.

After a vicious storm last night, the sun finally made an appearance in Darkest Devon today!  The first thing I did was check the garden to see which of my beloved plants had suffered the most.  It turns out that the bigger you are, the harder it is to survive stormy weather.  The worst hit was our beautiful copper beach tree – which is about 300 years old, the same age as our house.  I lay awake last night wondering if it was going to collapse on us through the roof as we were in bed.

Lots of branches were caught in the thatch of the house, and many others are  spread over the lawn. Luckily it seems to take more than a ’50 year storm ‘ to worry this tree, and when the sky finally turned blue, the dark purple hue of its leaves really stand out.  Strangely, the leaves usually turn green before they go purple, but the old tree was late coming into leaf this year, and when they finally came through, the leaves were the most vibrant purple that they have ever been.


The plants that survived the best, were those that had been delayed by the all the rain.  Most of my lupins and foxgloves are  at right angles, which looks rather strange although the bees don’t seem to mind too much.  This lupin bed (left) has survived though, phew!

My favourite of the day is the bank of tiny purple and white flowers that are spreading vigourously under this blue hydrangea bush (see below).  Sadly I have no idea what this plant is called – it just miraculously appeared  over the last couple of weeks, but these tiny flowers seem to have flourished in the storms.  I love the contrast  between the enormous flower heads of the hydrangea and the tiny pinpricks of this flower.  If anyone can enlighten me as to what it is, I’d be so grateful as ‘the House’ has  plenty of ancient Devon banks that would really suit this pretty plant…

What I’m discovering about living in an old house is that you never really feel like you own it.  It feels like we’re looking after it for the next generation.  So in that sense I suppose it’s no wonder I feel a bit anxious when I hear the House creaking and shuddering in the storm.  But the pay-off is the sense of history.  The House is in the centre of our village and the residents have countless stories about its previous occupants.  The other day I found out that a couple of hundred years ago, it used to be a house for ‘fallen women’.  And seeing as I fall over at least once a day due to my rubbish hips, it’s nice to know that some things will never change!

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