The back garden
...was a blank canvas
We had a modestly sized south westerly back garden in Spring 2001. Without delay we laid the patio and had 'a lawn' within 2 months. Erected 3 blue arches and created a circular pea gravel bed to cover an unsightly drain. I'd always wanted a lavender hedge and this was the perfect opportunity to attempt to grow one. Alas the rabbits razed it to the ground time and again.
Cottage garden plants were great fillers in the back garden while the shrubs were slowly maturing. The north facing corner is heavy clay with a high water table. I aptly named this corner 'Muddy Boots Corner' and it's been the most challenging area of the whole garden. Up to the present time many plants have died or haven't thrived in this part of the garden.
I built my first pond in the wrong place ... in the side garden. Something I regretted later. In 2007 the excavated soil from the new pond went into the old one. I built it this time next to the house so that I could view it from the living room. I had unearthed a very large stone while extending the border and it became my inspiration. Consequently I made the side garden into a Japanese style garden.
... need only apply
Then arrived the dreadful winters of 2009 and 2010. I lost so many plants over those two harsh winters. The lowest temperature recorded was -17.4 °C in the garden. On the positive side it slowly recovered though I still miss shrubs like the Mahonia and Nandina. I will never risked planting them again!
I've had many gardens over the years but this one has been the toughest yet. I learned from my mistakes. You can't grow what you like. You have to grow what will survive in the location!