Garden Blog - Blog Post

Fences and Pathfinding


A few weeks ago we last left off with the penultimate border edged with some stone work, a new path laid and just waiting on the compost heap to be decanted. I was hoping to be done with it by now, but alas no. Curiously, the garden is still throwing up plenty of distracting jobs to do in the meantime, all triggered by some form of maintenance work or another. There have been two main things this time around.

The first was that the renovation of the rhododendron hedge prompted our neighbour to take the opportunity to install a fence along the boundary line. At first I wasn’t very keen as I wanted to enjoy the year-round green that the rhododendron gives. I had visions of the whole hedge turning purple (it’s rhododendron Ponticum) as this would be the year when I renovate it, water it and feed it, heavily. It would be the best TLC it’s had in decades. I even painstakingly pulled out all the dead, congested wood in the hedge to allow light to get into the centre to encourage shooting all along the major stems, trunk and structure that I left. It was working too, the bare branches were covered in the “stubble” of new buds emerging, hopefully ready to flower for next year.

It was not to be though and our neighbour installed a very well-made lap-board/feather-edge fence that I now need to think about possibly painting. It’s an extension of the existing fence that runs along the side of the house. It now extends past the greenhouse (which we can walk behind for the first time, ever) and all the way down to the bottom of the garden. As the rhododendron hedge is tall, it “sits” on top of the fence, which is a nice touch as it means there is at least some greenery.

The hedge renovation and unexpected fence has given us back a lot of space along the top side of the garden. I have plans that are gradually coalescing that will break up the fence (hiding most of it) and possibly be one of the (many) highlights of the garden. It could be a fair amount of work, but if I get it right, the result could be stunning. I know it all sounds mysterious and you might not have a clue what I’m on about, but I don’t want to reveal much before I have really gotten going with my idea. The evenly-spaced bamboo canes in the border offer a cryptic clue.

While we have lost the face of the rhododendron hedge that we’ve been used to seeing since we moved in, it has given us significant space back in the garden, allowed for an opportunity I didn’t think we would have and has greatly reduced the amount of annual hedge maintenance we need to do (along with the problem of getting rid of the trimmings). I think we will get back more that we lost and my ultimate aim is to make the whole top side of the garden look as though it was always meant to be that way.

It was shortly after I laid the sleepers and made the path that runs along the back of the Willow border that my attention turned to the path on the opposite side of the garden. This wood-chip path wraps around the shed and runs between the Landing Pad and the beech hedge. It was edged with a felled birch trunk on one side and bamboo woven between pegs on the other. After several years being, both were in various states of decomposition. I wanted a more robust and longer lasting edge and so I became distracted again. I measured up the lengths I needed and ordered some pegs, chunky wood (not sleepers though – too expensive and too chunky) and begged to borrow some tools. Of course, it wouldn’t be a “five minute job” if it didn’t also involve getting rid of the old composed bark chips, levelling the ground, lining the base, ready for more bark chips on top. Essentially it’s re-doing the area at the back, again, properly, again.

Of course, I’ve had immense fun trying to put 50cm pegs into the ground while avoiding hitting the roots of the beeches, tall pines, and birches, as well as whatever is left from the few trees felled before we inherited the garden. I can see why people get enthusiastic about carpentry, DIY and all that, but I don’t have the tools to make the job easier. I hope the end result is a rustic path with rather prim edges.

After this side-excursion is done, which I’m hoping is very soon, I can finally get back to what I was supposed to be doing around the end of June – completing the Willow border, ready for planting towards the back end of the year. I just hope I don’t get distracted again.

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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 22/07/2020 - 6:41 am

Sunil – I read somewhere about a fence paint/cover that turns the fence “antique looking” rather than orange. Sadly, I don’t know what it’s called, but that is what the internet is for, eh? Looking forward to seeing what the bamboo canes are signalling…. it wouldn’t be an arched walkway at all, would it?
Wish you were nearer, an elderly relative is leaving her home and going into care (her choice). But she’s leaving a 25 year old garden with a lot of treasure behind! We are going to have a plant sale in August for all her potted stuff, but it’s a pity that my own garden cannot take everything I like the look of……….. (or maybe it can if I, like you, just create another border!!!). Anyway, I have her garden bench which is metal, colour turquoise, under a silver birch at the end of the garden and it looks as though it’s always been there and it’s in a little secret area of the garden, so nice for a sneaky cuppa!!

Sunil 24/07/2020 - 2:12 pm

Hello Mrs Mac, not much gets past you does it? I hope you’re able to take on a lot of the sentimental plants from your elderly relative’s garden. The bench sounds lovely – I definitely need more of those in garden so I’ve never far from a good sit-down.

Jean 23/07/2020 - 10:09 pm

It’s amazing how those garden projects just multiply when you’re not paying attention! Good that you are able to turn the neighbor’s new fence into an asset. Twenty years ago, I put down a very informal path of woodchips to connect the back garden to my “backstage” holding area at the far end of the house. By now, the wood chips have completely decomposed and the path has turned itself into a very serviceable white clover path.

Sunil 24/07/2020 - 2:15 pm

Hello Jean, it’s a case of one thing leading to another! For some reason I like to have very clear separation between border and path/grass (until the plants grow over the top) hence replacing the decomposing branches and bamboo with a much sturdier edging. I hope the new edging I put down lasts a while (many years). The bark chips will eventually decompose but I can leave that as a job for “future me” and it should be after the borders are all done.

gardeninacity 27/07/2020 - 8:34 pm

Looks like a great chance for some new Clematis, Roses, or perhaps espaliered fruit trees?

Sunil 30/07/2020 - 7:29 pm

Hello Jason, I’ll have to think hard about what will thrive here, it’s the driest, sunniest and hottest part of the garden. The soils is almost pure sand as the rhododendron hedge has sucked the nutrients and water out of it for 50+ years.


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