For some reason, making the Landing Pad and the surrounding borders seemed to be a real slog at times. It’s taken just over a year to get to the “ready to plant” part. Maybe it was because of all the work needed just to prepare the area, clearing the bamboo, getting rid of the rubbish and levelling the soil. I think we might have put in between seven to ten bulk-bags worth of compost, topsoil and manure into the borders with around three bulk bags for the bark chips. It’s a lot of material to cart from the front through to the very back, one wheel barrow at a time. I could probably do it blindfolded by now.
The borders also had a lot of fiddly areas and edging detail. From the ring of roofing tiles, the entrances and paths, through to the border contouring, stumps and even pipes to hold back the soil. There was a fair amount of engineering work required that the other borders didn’t and it all took time to experiment, figure out, test and work in.
Inspired by the bamboo that was taken out, the edging between the left-hand side where a beech hedge will be planted and the bark chip bath was marked out with bamboo canes weaved between bamboo batons hammered into the soil. This creates a rustic path, which is edged on the right side by the trunk of a birch that we took down around three years ago (it was leaning over dangerously). A stack of tiles sandwiched with leaf litter makes for a bug apartment.
I continued the bark chips in a thin strip round the back of the large pine and round to the archway by the shed, which carries the Kiftsgate rose over the top of it. The edging here are logs and branches pinned with bamboo batons, I’ve tried to make them invisible by having the bark chips over the top. You might be able to spot some clay piping in front of the shed to the lower left. These sit on top of a black drain pipe and keep the border soil away from the base of the shed to prevent it from getting damp and rotting. There’s also sufficient access and space to be able to re-paint the shed – which it is need of.
The clay pipes were part of a long-clogged French drain that we uncovered while we were digging Fruit Avenue and the Crescent. The pair of tree stumps came from a large pear tree that was growing on the patio when we first moved in. The pear was large, disfigured and blocked a lot of light, it was also causing the surrounding patio to heave, so down it came. Taking the tree down was one of the earliest major projects we did. We repurposed the stumps several times over the years and they’ve finally ended up here, as posts into and out of the Landing Pad.
The Landing Pad has two entrances (and exits), they’re bark chip paths flanked by cut branches. We used branches from some of the first overgrown shrubs that we cut down when we were clearing the neglected parts back to a “blank canvas”, they’ve been in a wood pile that has moved around the garden for years. We chose some thick straight branches for the path sides, they’re pinned down with bamboo pegs and they’re held by the border soil on one side and bark chips on the the other. The short section of border by the shed could turn out to be a real challenge. It’s very shady and also very dry, being under the trees. It could be tough to find plants that will thrive. I’m hoping the border soil will soak up the winter rain and act as a sponge, slowly releasing the water back to the plant roots over the hot, dry summer months.
Despite not digging down due to the tree roots, there was enough compost, topsoil and manure piled on top that it could only be effectively mixed in with the electric tiller. There was still a great deal of moving soil around and it took quite a long time to smoothly contour the border. The sinuous and straight edges with sharp corners were an interesting exercise in raking the surface to finish up with a levelled top and gentle sloping sides. After planting up, the contouring of a new border is one of favourite gardening activities and I like to spend time on getting just the right shape to the border surface as our garden borders are all raised, it’s like sculpting in 3-D.
Planting for this border is on pause while the weather is so dry. We’ll probably leave it until late winter and move plants in when they’re dormant. I also have lots of time for bulb planting too. What’s left to finish off is the strip against the fence where the beech hedge will be extended. I have until winter to do this (bare root season) so i’m in no rush. A mix of green and copper beech should look lovely. Next season, the strip of black polythene can come away, I’ll fill with soil, plant up and that’s this rather large section of the garden done.
In the meantime, I’m looking around the garden to see where the glare of my attention will fall next. It’s wandering over to the Goat Willow tree (behind the wooden bench in the picture). It’s an area that was once tidy, and now needs to be tidied again. It’s almost like deja-vu.