Garden Blog - Blog Post

Tale of Two Borders


With having such a larger garden now, I find my attention flitting from one part of it to another. A few weeks ago, I was working on chipping the large shrubs and small trees that been cut down because they were growing in all the wrong places, there’s still a large pile to get rid of, but I stopped doing that and moved on to making up the large clematis planters for the front, then on to re-arranging the patio pots, then sowing seeds before going back to chipping and so on. It’s the horticultural equivalent of spinning plates.

Lately, my mind has been on the north side access from the front to the back and a small corner border set into the patio by the dining room, both filled with invasive carex grass, stumps and weeds. They were highly visible and highly irritating, a reminder that I haven’t “fixed” it yet. Luckily all it took was a small window of benevolent weather and the full searing glare of my attention immediately focussed on it like the Eye of Sauron (Lord of the Rings) and before the day was done, both “issues” had been addressed.

WP_20140509_09_01_01_ProThe little border by the dining room was so stuffed full of carex grass that only the mattock was able to loosen it sufficiently for the spade to lift it out. The hoe, lawn edger and saw were all useless.


The grass had grown unchecked for a long time and developed a thick mass of tangled roots; luckily the border was surrounded by house walls and patio concrete. There were also plant labels for a Dutch Honeysuckle (long since dead) and for others that couldn’t be read as they had faded.

WP_20140509_10_04_02_ProAfter working through anger management issues with the mattock, the border was cleared. It should be noted that the mattock inexplicably missed hitting the walls and the patio doors throughout this exercise.

WP_20140509_10_42_10_ProThe top layer of soil was sieved to remove roots that could have re-sprouted, a final rake-over and level and the job is done. This border is on contested ground as I have plans to place a conservatory over this section of the patio and this border would end up on the inside, otherwise it would be the perfect place to start a new wisteria, climbing rose and clematis to run over the house walls. At the moment this border will remain clear, while it is very tempting to plant into it, there’s a real possibility that we would have to cut it down and dig it out a few years down the line.

On a roll, I moved my gardening kit across the patio to deal with the weeds and stumps along the side access. A large ceanothus and two large buddleias had already been cut down, opening up the side to space, air and light, but the weeds (more carex grass) and stumps remained.

WP_20140509_11_04_38_ProThe trugs are part of the roof gutter water collection program (i.e. to catch leaks). Starting at the near end, the process was much the same, using the spade and fork to systematically move along the border, taking the weeds and the stumps out of the ground.


The end result was another clear border. This is likely to stay unplanted for some time too. The fence first needs to be repainted (with a few coats) and as the soil is poor, I plan to raise the level using log rolling along the path-side and some protective felt or plastic along the fence side. Since this part gets very little sun, it will be well suited to shade-loving plants and there’s also a climbing hydrangea that is earmarked for this section of the fence too.

Garden restoration continues. These two areas are small, but they are very visible and seeing them cleared gives me a disproportionately high level of satisfaction. Now these are done, my attention has once more shifted to the front garden and to a small semi-circular border which is another highly visible and high-impact site.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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Mrs Mac 12/05/2014 - 11:18 pm

that little square that might be inside the conservatory at some time? could you not perhaps plant a grape vine in it? then you could just lay back and shout “peel me a grape Beaulah” when your garden is finished? Just a thought……….
The reason we have gone all southern on you is that we on on holiday and have just arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in an an unexpected hot spell. We are being southern gentlefolk tonight!

Sunil 13/05/2014 - 10:06 am

Hi Mrs Mac, I did wonder whether that border is a blazing in disguise and we could plant it with apricot/peach/nectarine/grape and grow under glass. When built it might be the only conservatory on the street with staging and a potting bench.

casa mariposa 14/05/2014 - 1:42 am

Sometimes it’s the littlest projects that drive us the craziest. All the carex grass would have tortured me, too. I bet a cool groundcover and something funky for a tall accent would be a fun way to spruce up the narrow spot by the house.

Sunil 20/05/2014 - 9:13 am

Hi Tammy, since that part is relatively shady, I’m thinking of ferns and hostas with climbing hydrangea on the fence. I might try a Zephirine Drouhin rose, since they’re supposed to be good even on north aspects (seeing is believing). There’s still a fair bit to do before I can get it ready for planting through, which is frustrating.

lynngator 16/05/2014 - 8:59 pm

Wow, you are getting so much done already. Can’t wait to see it again next year after you’ve tidied up and put in your plants. All that work can be frustrating. I remember when I spent three days on my hands and knees pulling out an invasive bee balm. A little bit tried to creep back in the following year, but in the end I defeated it like you did with the carex grass!

Sunil 20/05/2014 - 9:15 am

Hi Lynn, a lot of the carex grass has gone, but there are a couple of other stands and also places where it has run through a border, those will be tricky to do, but at the same time, I find it very therapeutic. I’ll be glad to see the rest of it gone.


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