I’ve always wanted a walled garden, with espaliered fruit trees and roses growing  against old bricks.  Unfortunately this is completely out of my reach.

For many years my husband and I owned a holiday lodge on an old estate at Marlow in the UK called Harleyford. Only the walls remained of the 18thC  gardens belonging to the manor house. I saw a print of the  gardens  dating from the Victorian era one day and dreamed of them being restored. Sadly, it never happened. 

Glorious, English walled garden.




However, I do have a little wall garden. Its creation has been a true labour of love during the most challenging weather conditions I have experienced in more than twenty years living in the upper Blue Mountains. Eighteen months of almost constant  rain. 😨

Below is the original sandstone wall in our Blackheath garden. It was built in the 1960s by London born professor of architecture Frederick Towndrow. We recently added new entrance steps which you can see on the left. They were built of reclaimed sandstone from Sydney’s Circular quay.

The bare wall garden.


Everything, (mostly  mason’s rubble ) was removed from the original bed except an espaliered crepuscule rose and a flowering red currant. I added a lot of compost and some new topsoil.

My plan included an edging of wooly yarrow, a small lavender hedge, bee attracting lambs ears, spring bulbs and two correas for our nectar loving small birds. Unfortunately I had to replace the first lot of lavenders, because the poor things drowned.

These lavenders in the wall garden succumbed to the constant rain.


Here we are twelve months later. It has been a real battle, but the spring bulbs were pretty and now, in mid January the lavenders are beginning to flower. The Crepuscule rose has almost finished. The correas are still small and the birds are currently feeding elsewhere on grevilleas and other natives. However, by next season we should start to see Eastern Spinebills and New Holland Honeyeaters visiting.

The plants growing in the wall itself are the self seeding Cymbalaria muralis (Kenilworth ivy) and Erigeron (seaside daisy) When they start to hide too much of the stone I just pull some of it off.

The wall garden in mid-summer.

At the top of the wall (up the steps on the other side) we created a new home for our resident skink family. Generations of them have lived in the old wall for years.

Creating a new home for skinks at the back of the wall.

You can spot a youngster checking out the finished project;

Mrs Skink herself appeared early on Christmas morning to thank Santa for the family’s gifts. That’s probably a good note to end on. 💛

Skink's home in the wall.

UPDATE —– September  2023 Such is the contrariness of nature (with the worrying addition of climate change) that we are now experiencing our  earliest and warmest spring on record. However, the wall garden is finally looking as I originally imagined.

The wall garden finally looking OK.

The wall garden, spring 2023

Reflections in the little blue birdbath. My own reflections are that it was worth persevering. 😎


Focal point of the wall garden.





  1. very pretty, and well worth the perseverence

  2. Lovely….

  3. A lot of work over the years but worth the end result. I didn’t know the history of Harleyford but sort of obvious from all the old estates in days gone by, especially those alongside the Thames. Gonna have to check out Harleyford’s history now!

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