Garden Blog - Blog Post

Finishing the Willow Border


The last several weeks in the garden have been physically exhausting. I’ve been spending almost all of my spare, fair-weather days working in it, finishing the Willow border, creating a new area behind the urn, underneath the hedge in the rectangle and just generally dealing with “little” fiddly jobs. There’s also been a lot of design work for the exciting developments in the final border; which I won’t reveal just yet.

After the first round of planting the Willow border, I still had an empty area at the back of the border to fill out. Two trips to different garden centres didn’t give me the shrubs I wanted so I had to head online and spend a rather long time looking for that one online nursery that had all the plants I wanted in stock:

  1. Lonicera Fragrantissima (Winter-flowering honeysuckle)
  2. Mahonia x media “Winter Sun”
  3. Cornus Kousa “Wolf Eyes” (flowering dogwood)
  4. Osmanthus x Burkwoodii

These plants aren’t going to win any style or fashion prizes, but they’re “solid” and can hopefully cope with the very tough, dry conditions underneath the pine trees. They at least have the help of the soaker hose too. Three of these shrubs are fragrant and two flower in winter, so I’d say they’re a winning combination from the start. These shrubs were delivered recently and they went into the border (with an inordinate amount of watering to get the started) and that finishes the main planting for this penultimate border. I allowed myself a whole ten minutes to sit down and enjoy the milestone passing.

The Willow Border, finally planted

I mentioned in an earlier post about making the cross-shaped Willow border access path “official”. This involved carefully measuring the dimensions and lengths and adjusting them very carefully to fit the lengths of metal edging that I finally bit the bullet and purchased. The edging comes in set lengths/pieces, in packs of five and they are expensive, however, I just wanted to see what it would be like and before buying miles of it for the garden borders; I could “trial” the metal edging for the border path. I had to be careful with the measurements and order just the right amount. That was tricky problem number one. Tricky problem number two was bending the edging at the corners. The metal is 1.6mm thick, it doesn’t sound like much but it’s rigid enough to stand on without warping and trying to bend it precisely for the path corners (a cross shape has a lot of corners) required a lot of brute force and no ignorance. The path lengths were set such that I didn’t had any room for mistakes, a bend in the wrong place, or the wrong side and I’d have to buy an entire new pack of five (plus delivery).

Tough shrubs for a tough location

Thankfully, checking three times and bending carefully once for all the corners worked well and by the time I got round back to the start, there was just a short section of overlap that I could lose by following round again. Phew, I used fifteen pieces in all and twelve required at least one bend. The metal edging works great on flat areas, unfortunately, the border gently slopes and so it was out with the spirit level and mallet to try to knock the edging such that the path is less sloped than the border (it’s flatter). That meant having the edging more embedded at the top end and more exposed at the bottom of the border.

Lots of corners to bend and fold

The next step was to excavate the soil from the path, level and pin down some landscape fabric, onto which I decanted a whole bulk-bag of wood chips to fill and make the path. I admit that I completely over-ordered the wood chips and I had another entire bulk bag of wood chips that I needed to use up, somewhere. Fortunately, as there are several wood chips paths around the Landing Pad (many of which were made earlier this year), I managed to easily use up the entire bulk bag just by topping up those paths. It’s scary how the garden can just “lose” an entire bulk bag of material with ease.

Willow Border – gauche

At this point the work on the Willow border is kind of finished, there are bulbs to plant into it but I’m not sure I’ll manage to do that this year as I still have many jobs elsewhere about the garden that need attention. My plan for this year was to create and plant the Willow border, and that’s now been achieved, but making this border spawned many other jobs, which is why it has taken far more time and far more effort that I thought it would when I was first planning it last winter. I have been recording most of these myriad jobs in a list and I can say that I have a list of 60+ jobs and tasks that I had to do, just to create that border; now that’s more involved than I ever thought it would be.

Willow Border – droit

The bonus is that creating the Willow border has had the knock-on effect of cleaning up, tidying up polishing and clearing out many other parts of the garden and that’s put me in a very good position to think about how I’m going to tackle the final border, the one that I’ve been putting off for years, the largest border in the garden and probably the key border that holds all the other ones together. I might just have a bit of a sit down first before I get started on that, though.

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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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Lynn Hunt 30/09/2020 - 6:52 pm

No wonder you are exhausted. It looks wonderful so sit back, relax and take a deep breath!

Sunil 01/10/2020 - 6:45 pm

Thanks, Lynn, I allowed myself a very indulgent ten minutes to sit down and take it in before I got up to carry on with the next job I had on my list!

Susan Massey 04/10/2020 - 3:10 pm

Hi Sunil, do you have a fb page we can follow?I’m always looking for gardening tips, and I find your writing style very informative and reader friendly.

Sunil 04/10/2020 - 7:09 pm

Hi Susan, that’s very kind, but I don’t have a fb page where I post things about the garden, it’s all here on the blog. You can subscribe to the blog with your email address (just look down the right hand side for “Subscribe to this Blog”. fb also has lots of gardening groups that you could join, I am a member of a few such as Gardening UK (not exclusively for UK though) and there is an amazing wealth of information, hints, tips and advice people there have.


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