I'm not sure if this is advice, exactly, but when, after my husband died nearly three years ago, I moved from our house in Wiltshire, with it's pretty wall garden, I had to start again from scratch.
My ground floor apartment has a triangular shaped courtyard and a long raised bed about a metre and a half wide. And when I say raised, it's over a metre high. I do a lot of my gardening on a stepladder!
I was confronted with an overgrown bed, full of weeds and not much else. A lovely man called Robert came and cleared it for me, leaving a couple of buddleias, a huge deep pink hydrangea and a wonderful clematis montana growing along the fence.
I gave myself a budget – that's a bit of a joke! – and began to order plants. A winter flowering clematis like the one I'd had in my previous garden and quietly grew over a fence and smothered it with pretty white flowers in the winter. It's taken a while to settle in but seems to be bulking up now.
One half of the bed only gets the sun early in the morning and late in the evening. The other other gets a bit baked in the afternoon and I'm beginning to learn what will grow where.
I spent rather a lot of money on a myrtle that I am going to have to move since it clearly needs more sun. It's a learning curve. But the aliums – wild garlic – that I grew under one of the buddleias did wonderfully last spring and I'm hoping for a repeat. I bought some more varieties this autumn. They do spread if they like the location. Fingers crossed.
I have planted loads of the wonderful tete a tete daffodils – small but tough. A blast of yellow, they last for ages and take whatever the weather throws at them.
I have tulips, too. They need planting deep if they are to stay put. And digging up bulbs and replanting them is no fun! This year I've bought a whole lot more, but they will go into pots, topped with wallflowers or forget me nots to prolong the flowering period.
One of excitements this year was my bamboo. I plant it this time two years ago and it just sat there. This summer it suddenly leapt into life and sprouted great long shoots – it's in a pot so won't take over the garden. And for my birthday last year, my daughter gave me a hawthorn – part of my rewilding efforts - which is now bearing berries.
I am concentrating on plants that will benefit the birds and pollinators. Single roses, daisy type dahlias, daisies – I love daisies – and grasses. And this autumn's task is to build a log pile and I need a bird bath. I saw a beauty yesterday...
The joy of a garden, no matter how small, is that it never stops being a work in progress!
Liz Fielding has been writing her award winning romances for nearly thirty years. The setting for her first book, An Image of You, was drawn on a safari camp in Kenya that she visited regularly when living there with her civil engineer husband, who she met while working in Zambia. She has also lived in Botswana and the Middle East, but has now settled in West Sussex, close to her daughter and grandchildren.
Her latest book, Christmas Reunion in Paris is out now.