In the "lots of work" category for this year, there's something I hadn't posted yet but that was still worth a look: the flower bed above the water tank.
That's what the corner in front of the house at the left of the garden's gate used to look like:
... basically a privet hedge (some of which were either dead or dying), a hydrangea and a snowball tree - very lovely in Spring according to the former owners but that had two major downsides: it was covered in scale insects and was partially blocking sunlight to the window just behind it. In addition, the area was covered in various weeds.
In August 2010, we started removing the privets, which were replaced with yet another hydrangea (that used to be in what is now the vegetable garden), a mahonia and a snowberry. Two other hydrangeas (also from the vegetable garden) were planted behind the snowball tree.
Then, in Autumn, big problem: when the various contractors were getting ready to do the work we needed them to do, we discussed the location of the water tank with the master builder and the earthwork contractors. And that lead to a change of plan: it would be more appropriate for the tank (which was initially supposed to end up buried under the carport) to be located... under the snowball tree (because this is were the rainwater pipes are). So, we had to move everything we had planted there so far, and give up on the snowball tree: it was too big to be relocated. As for the hydrangea which was already there, we couldn't unearth it, as most of its roots were under the concrete path. The rest (mahonia, snowberry and hydrangeas) was put into pots.
That's what they installed:
I dug the soil in March. It was horrible: huge pieces of slate everywhere, along with some concrete blocks and some mostly unidentifiable junk. Anyway, I was able to plant the hydrangeas and the "hedge-to-be" again. I added a few rhododendrons that were vaguely surviving in other parts of the garden.
I started adding more plants in early April: a variegated foliage rhododendron, a fuchsia (f. magellanica), a creeping ceanothus, as well as some small(ish) perennials: moss phlox, wood-sorrels, spiderwort, astilbe, maiden pink, daylily, pasque flower, carex buchananii and globe flower.
The idea was to do that over some time:
It was definitely looking better in mid-April, and everything I had planted had survived.
It improved rather suddenly after that, as a colleague of mine gave me a bunch of rosebushes which had to be planted as soon as possible. Five of them ended up above the water tank!
I added some ground cover a few days later: tickseed, gypsophila, crossworts and Convolvulus sabatius.
It is definitely looking better now:
Now I need to wait until everything's grown a bit to know whether I need to plant a few more things or not.