Garden Blog - Blog Post

Minding the Steps


There’s only one rose left that I need to prune. All the others are done for the season. I’m left with the last and most difficult one to contend with, then it’s all done for another year.

I manage to prune it the year before and it’s now really overgrown.

It’s also inaccessible as it’s surrounded by the interweaving and interlacing branches of other shrubs around it.

It’s thorny too.

I’m currently ignoring the problem and working on another item on the list of jobs I mentioned a few posts ago and that’s the hedge pruning. We recently finished pruning the long beech hedge, narrowing it by a fair amount. It looks much neater now, but viewed from above (upstairs) there is a section which is still a little wide and needs “tucking in”. That will be a job for the next scheduled prune, however.

After cutting the hedge comes the tidying-up part and I decided to bring into a scope a few more jobs that I wanted to see the back of as they were bugging me.

One of them was sorting out a small strip of ground between the hedge and the back patio steps. Ordinarily, this is fine and is filled by barely-contained loosestrife. However, the uneven slope and even more uneven steps meant I was always pushing the soil back.

It was a safety hazard and an OCD hazard.

I took the chance to bring out the lawn edger to cut a trench between the steps and border, I laid a few layers of weed-control fabric and weighed it down with a bucket’s worth of stones picked up from doing the garden borders. On top of this I sat a line of rockery stone, wedged in against the steps and border soil. These are the final pieces of stone left over from making the retaining walls that form two sides of the corner border. I had around seven pieces left and I’m glad I kept them as I knew they would come in handy one day.

The trench of soil that I cut out was full of loosestrife and so I just replanted those pieces further back underneath the hedge. Finally, I put down my patented rocket-fuel fertiliser mix, a wheelbarrow of manure/compost mix over the top to make it look even and a gave the lot a good watering-in to get those loosestrife pieces settled and growing again.

It looks much better now, even if I do say so myself. I am partial to a nice set of steps and these are now a nice set of steps. They’re still terribly uneven but at least it looks picturesque from head-height. I hope the loosestrife fill the area again.

While the garden is dominated by the large borders, there are many spots – particularly around the house – that are “in between” spaces. These are “fillers” or small scraps or fragments of ground or borders in between one main area and another. I’ve gradually been getting round to dealing with them and I can now tick another one off the list.

Restoring the area around the back patio steps has scratched an itch I’ve had for a few years but unfortunately, that rose still hasn’t pruned itself.

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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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susan maclean 01/04/2020 - 9:08 am

Ah! that’s better! I know that feeling, when it’s done you step back with a smile….
Well, as a member of the “stay at home unless absolutely necessary, I am working on doing those kinds of jobs myself. But of course, with no garden centres or nurseries open, It’s going to be a make-do-and-mend kind of gardening this year because I need more plants, but can’t go shopping for them. So – it’s a bit of split and replant this year. I have a few in pots ready to plant, and they are going to have to do double duty whether they want to or not, and I have one border (the only original bit of the garden) which will have to be completely dug out because it’s invaded by lily of the valley. So any plants in that border will come in handy for the holes in other places. And I thought I had a stock of annual seeds but cannot find them anywhere….. only one packet of poppies, sent to me as a gift.
Please take pics of the steps when the planting has covered the soil. Would your aubretia like it there?

Sunil 07/04/2020 - 9:35 am

Hello Mrs Mac, I’m also very itchy to look around a Garden Centre and buy plants. Working on some of the borders this spring I can see gaps that I want to fill before the weeds do the job for me and then there’s all the annuals to go in the patio pots and hanging baskets. You might have to remind me to take a picture of the steps later on in the summer when the loosestrife have hopefully returned. I think the area is to shady for aubretia, which is a shame as it is a lovely plant.

gardeninacity 02/04/2020 - 5:14 pm

Nice job! That must have been satisfying. I’ve heard that loosestrife is extremely aggressive, as the name kind of implies. Not true?

Sunil 07/04/2020 - 9:30 am

Hello Jason, it is meant to be spreading and aggressive, at least I have it contained in that small strip between the steps and the hedge. The flowers are lovely and it is tempting to plant it into one of the larger borders, but I think that would be a very bad idea: “Let loose the strife”!


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