Our Exciting Sensory Walled Garden Plans – The Summerhouse

Well, what a week it’s been! We got back from our holiday last Saturday night and then were thrown straight back into hard labour on Sunday morning. The biggest instalment in our new sensory garden, an amazingly beautiful New England style summerhouse and canopy, was being built on Monday. However, an enormous four foot high mound of earth was in front of where it was going to be built. It wouldn’t have made for great photos! So, Mr C and I rolled up our sleeves and set to work lugging tonnes of earth to the end of the garden. We definitely came down to earth with a bang, but we have always been prepared to get stuck in. Nothing gets done by itself!

Loads more to do here, including the decking, but what a difference it’s made!

Monday came in a flash and Coastal Garden Buildings arrived at 8am. They set to work pretty much straight away. I set up a camera to record the whole process in a time lapse and then started painting the shed that we were also getting from Coastal Garden Buildings. In between that I was photographing the whole thing, while the boys created our beautiful new summerhouse. My goodness they worked hard! The entire thing and the shed next to it were built in one day. Pop over to my instagram page: @jpslifeandloves to see the reel showing the build speeded up! I haven’t taken a picture of the summerhouse with the shed next to it yet as I’m waiting on a few last minute things and the new lounge set from Cox and Cox is there, but I don’t want to show that just yet!

What a plonker!

On the subject of the time lapse: I made one big mistake – I accidentally pressed slow mo mode! What a plonker! So, at the end of the day I had nine hours of a slow motion recording in 4K resolution. It took three days to try and get it downloaded from my iPad to my phone and then I had to speed it up as much as I could within my editing app and then try and save it again, ready to then speed it up again within the app.

I had to do this four times and each save took hours! I finally finished editing just before midnight on Friday night. So, anyone out there that thinks that all us ”influencers” do is take a quick video and stick some music to it, you are severely mistaken! Note to self; always check which button you’ve pressed before filming. Could have smacked myself!

In between cleaning and changing beds at The Harbour Deckhouse, our holiday let, and doing a bit of hairdressing on the side, I‘ve been busy painting the summerhouse, including the underside of the canopy. I can’t wait to show you next week! We now have to build the deck that will surround the summerhouse and create the courtyard in between our single storey extension, the new conservatory/orangery and the summerhouse. Once that is done then I can get styling and I can’t bloody wait!

Bringing the outside in

Last weekend I published the first part of this mini series about our sensory garden plans. If you haven’t read it yet, then do click on the link here “Our Exciting Sensory Walled Garden Plans”, as it’s important to read that first to give you a grounding for this post.

Imagine sipping a cocktail here.

In last week’s post one of the things I said is that everything I ever do in design terms is about bringing the outside in and visa versa. Connecting the interior with the outside world and bridging the gap between the comforts of home and the pleasures of the botanical. This New England style summerhouse and canopy totally reflects my design ethos. It encompasses Mr C, my hubby and I’s lifestyle to a T. After all, gardens are all about enjoyment of the outside world and spending time with nature and friends and family. The canopy creates the perfect space to sit and chat with a glass of something fabulous, come rain or shine.

I’m going to be working with Cox and Cox to furnish the canopy with a stunning lounge set. I can’t wait to show you that soon. I’ll be adding creature comforts that usually adorn the inside of a home. It’s going to entice you in and compel you to sit and put your feet up. One end of the canopy is open to the garden view and one to the new courtyard. That’s why I’ve been working so hard to try and finish the flower borders in this area.

Roots from hell!

This weekend I’ll be finishing the blue hydrangea border, which is the closest one to the canopy and edged in Hidcote Lavender. It should be the perfect backdrop. However, as this goes to press I have just found more enormous tree roots in that border. I decided, in my wisdom, to widen the border to mirror the diagonal lines on the opposite side of the garden. Good plan. However, it’s taken me all of Saturday to get the roots out and the soil is like concrete! At one point I felt just like an archeologist trying to find where these deeply buried roots ran. Such treasure!

The garden design

If you’ve been following my series on how to design a garden, then you’ll know that my design stage started at the beginning of this year. I’ve been playing with ideas, throwing different possibilities around until I came up with the best plan of action. Back in the ’90s the then owners had garden designs drawn up, part of which were built. This included two brick diagonal lines set into the ground to edge a concrete slab patio area. I’m not in any way a fan of the latter, but I do really like the diagonal brickwork and so I’ve fought to keep them. 

In fact, I have based my entire garden design on them. Using diagonals to draw the eye to different viewpoints and make the garden adventurer want to explore. My usual gardening style is very traditional English cottage garden. However, as lovely as it is, it’s a lot of work and I felt like my last garden became a bit of a ball and chain in the end. This time I want things to be much simpler, using lots of repetition and en masse planting. The problem is, I had not counted on the cost of everything doubling, or even tripling overnight! Next week I’ll be talking more about the cost of plants and what I did to try and get round it.

The summerhouse and canopy – creating and outdoor room

Rachel from Coastal Garden Buildings has followed me almost since I started my Instagram page three years ago. When we decided on including a summerhouse and canopy in the garden I knew exactly where we would get it from. They are based in Christchurch, Dorset. We travelled down to see them a few months ago and discussed our plans. They have been so incredibly helpful and really guided us through the process. They can build you almost any type of garden building and they have a clever virtual design system on their website, so you can create something that suits you. Do take a look at their website!

The garden from above. Please excuse the mess, it’s a work in progress!

The enclosed part of the summerhouse is going to house a little garden office for me until my full time study is finished inside our house. After that, who knows? It might become a pool house if I can ever persuade Mr C for us to get another splash pool! The canopy gives you the best of both worlds. It connects you immediately with the garden and nature, but it also gives you privacy and a sense of cosiness. I want it to feel like it’s a living room, but outside. I’m planning on adding hanging plants, lights, a mirror, a rug, cushions and throws – you name it!

But, first it’s important to get the decking sorted. We did have a contractor, but the labour costs were just too expensive and we can’t afford it. So, as always, we’ll be rolling up our sleeves very soon! I promised you I would talk about all the planting in the borders. That’s next weekend. Promise!

JP Clark signature

Transparency: The summerhouse and shed were a discounted PR product and therefore this post is classed as an advert.

5 Comments

  1. May 29, 2022 / 7:54 am

    It looks so good! I am with you — creating rooms makes a garden come together so well! Bravo!!

  2. Carolyn
    May 29, 2022 / 8:59 am

    It is all the Wally coming together now. Have loved watching the birders and garden take shape and really interested in the planting schemes. The summerhouse and canopy are a great way to enjoy all the hard work, can’t wait to see it titivated and with decking. Well done, all that hard work is paying off!

  3. Frances Gail
    May 29, 2022 / 9:39 am

    What a great achievement so far, JP! I cannot get over your boundless energy but I guess that’s the passion giving you vim! It’s heartening to know you sometimes struggle with tech, too but I saw the IG post on your garden building build and it worked a treat. What is the whole footprint of the building, please? And what base is it on? If you’ve written that already I apologise but I’m chasing my tail keeping up with everything. Happy Sunday.xx

  4. Marion Cole
    May 29, 2022 / 11:05 am

    It’s starting to all come together – your gardens are always beautiful but I think this is going to surpass the Surrey garden. Brilliant JP, I am so enjoying your journey.

  5. Sue Peachey
    May 29, 2022 / 3:24 pm

    Oh your garden is going to be fabulous! I love the diagonal design. The summer house and canopy are just a dream for me – we will be having a pergola and can’t wait for that soon. Meanwhile, I will think of the fabulous days and evening you will have outside x

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