Garden Blog - Blog Post

The Long Road to Clearville


You may want to have a cup of tea and a sleeping bag, this is a long one.

Towards the end of last year I just managed to sneak in starting the large semi-circular border in the back. This has been under wraps (weed membrane) for a number of years now. I had expected to resume working on it as soon as the Winter/Spring maintenance jobs were finished with.

Only it didn’t quite end up like that. Several of the jobs I had down centred around dealing with the rubbish that was hanging about the back of the garden. In particular, one border that repeatedly was cleared only to have more rubbish dumped on it again. A kind of unloved scratch-space for the garden.

It was while I was side-tracked by cleaning up the area under the trees that I took the opportunity to have a think about how to clear this border for good. I looked through old photos just to see what we have dumped and cleared there over the years.

What we inherited

We actually inherited the border as a border, but it was very overgrown and full of self-seeded trees and weeds. There were some lovely azaleas in there, namely a white and a red one that would flower and stand out like beacons, but my goodness it was a mess.

After some outside help

While I could have cleared this area myself, we actually brought in some people to do it for us. I’m not sure exactly why, it remains the only time we have ever had paid help for garden work. They took out all the overgrown shrubs (leaving some nice ferns on request). They also ground the stumps. They left the area mostly clear, but we quickly filled it up again with rubbish, stone and stumps from other parts of the garden.

Soil overspill storage

It gradually got worse as I used the area to dump excess soil while working to reach the back of the garden. This was before the area under the trees was cleared and well before the Landing Pad was even an idea in my mind.

Now down to one shed

It got worse still when I took one of the rotting sheds down, thankfully it was the smaller one, but a load of wood panels and bits-of-shed were added to the pile, that wouldn’t be dealt with for a few years.


More bits from the back

Starting as we mean to go on, more rubbish appeared, this time when uncovering the coal bunker that the rotting shed was stood on. At this point I had finally reached one of the far corners of the garden. The compost heap was taking shape and a path was being made all the way along the back under the trees. We had managed to burn some of the rubbish as we stand the incinerator on stone flags on wooden pallets to keep it from burning the grass. I also did some light pruning of the lower beech branches at the back.

Clear and refill

Things go from bad to a different kind of bad with a switch-out of the rubbish in the “border”. It looks like some things were re-arranged, others were cleared and refilled. Bamboo bits are starting to appear so work has started on clearing the overgrown bamboo screen on the opposite side to this area.

Rubbish from beech tree canopy lift

Now we go from bad to worse as I lift the canopy of the beech trees that run along the back of the garden. This changed the whole character of the back area from being dark and oppressive to light and airy. While still in shade, it’s much more dappled and the beech trees don’t feel like they’re sitting on you. This work created a whole new and rather large pile of rubbish that needed to be dealt with.

Included in this intimidating pile might also be the beech tops from when we used the chainsaw to reduce the height of the beech hedge that runs along the south length of the garden. It’s a lot of beech to get rid of.

Goat Willow Pruning

We then swap the beech for goat willow branches from when I raised the canopy of this tree. The lower branches of the goat willow were sat on the ornamental cherry in front of it. Lifting the canopy gave the cherry some breaching room while also letting in a lot more light to this area and to the back of the garden in the evening.

The branches were cut up and used to flute the edge of the landing pad. We burnt some of the smaller prunings. The shed bits were broken up and decanted into the bin.

A final effort

We now come to this year and work starts on clearing the border, again. When the bamboo storage area was finally put together at the back of the shed, every cane was inspected and those that had split or rotted ended up on this pile. I gradually decanted them into the rubbish. The bamboo tops make great kindling so I gathered these up into sheaves, tied them up and put them in their designated spot against the back fence too. After these two piles had gone, the area was free to pick up the small detritus, stones and to pull up the weeds and rampant ivy.

A clear border

With the detritus picked up, and the rubbish gone, the border is now finally clear. No more rubbish is allowed on this section.

You can see a mesh fence towards the back and the area behind it is also in the process of being cleared out and cleaned up. The bulk bag contains rhododendron hedge clippings from the renovation work I am doing with it this year and that will stay on the old shed base that’s on top of the coal bunker at the back of the garden. We’ll decant, burn or dump these as we need, but they won’t end up on this border.

While the border is far from complete as it ends to be edged, fertilised and top-dressed/mulched, it feels odd to have this front area clear with the area behind soon to follow. We’re planning for an edge-of-woodland type border here with azaleas, acers and woodland shrubs and perennials. The whole thing underplanted with bluebells.

It’s been somewhat of a race to get this far and we’re just past mid-May so progress is good. I’m hoping the border will be more than ready for planting around autumn time. Meanwhile, work on this border continues and for once in its life, it’s not about clearing up all the rubbish.

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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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gardeninacity 27/05/2020 - 12:19 am

My god, this reminds me of the Labors of Hercules! Well done!

Sunil 01/06/2020 - 9:07 am

Thanks, Jason. It feels like I cleared out the area more than 12 times. It’s probably not far off that number. I’m hoping it stays clear of rubbish now, for good!

Jayne in Georgia 07/06/2020 - 4:29 pm

Your tenacity is admirable! Good going!

Sunil 08/06/2020 - 1:48 pm

Thanks, Jane, though some people would probably call it “stubbornness”.


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