Continuing Work on the Final Border

It’s been another week-and-a-bit and the only thing there is to report is that work continues on the final border in the garden. The weather has become a little more unsettled so at least I’m not digging in thirty degrees heat and full sun, but it does mean that I’m back to dodging rain showers.

I’m working across the border in wide strips. The width I’m doing them means approximately five strips fit along the border length and I’m currently on the third. With all the roots from the trees (existing and those previously removed), we can’t do the usual (if rather intensive) digging method where we dig a large trench, fill the bottom with compost and manure and then mix in existing soil over the top. I have to tentatively dig and fork around large roots and while I can usually get the tiller in, I have to be careful to avoid the congested areas.

It feels like the young plants on the patio staging are getting increasingly impatient to be planted out, I think some of them are even trying to flower, which is very ambitious given the summer we’re having. I want to complete the whole border first before any planting as that will help me get a nice contoured surface across the whole border and also see where the informal paths can go.

In other maintenance the Strelitzia burst out of its pot, it split the plastic tub all down the side – a very impressive show of strength from a plant whose roots look like ginger rhizomes. We had to divide the plant up and it was no small job. We managed to somehow carve the crown into four pieces and now have them potted up and under observation. They’ve survived overnight and are just kind of sat there on the patio – probably still in shock – and we’re waiting for the pieces to resume growing again. I will hold on to one of the splits and give the others away. I don’t think we’re going to get any flowers this year.

What did have flowers recently is the Night Blooming Cereus, which – even after some dramatic pruning to try and control the plant – managed over 20 flowers. As always it’s a “blink and you miss it” affair. The flowers open for one night only and they’re wilted by morning.

Elsewhere in the garden the various plants and shrubs are just carrying on, doing their thing, though in a manner somewhat messier than I would approve of. I’m still firmly of the mindset where any job that is not directly contributing to completing the final border can wait, unless there’s a plant’s life on the line, or the house roof is in jeopardy (I’m thinking of the Jasmine and the Banksiae rose here).

Mentioning the Jasmine, we discovered a family of blackbirds had made their nest in it, which is surprising because – given the vine is only a few years old – I didn’t think it was dense enough for birds to comfortably nest in it, but they did. It was wonderful to watch the blackbirds endlessly fly in and out of the nest, feeding their young, which we think were at least two hatchlings. Over the weeks as they grew, we heard their calls for food change from sweet little baby mewls to demanding cries, then over the course of a few days the garden seemed to be filled with fledglings from al manner of birds, as though it was a pre-planned event. After the graduation, there was silence and the nest is empty. It’s too late in the season now for another set of egg-laying and young-raising.

When the Jasmine defoliates in the winter I’ll be able to see exactly where the nest was and I hope the blackbirds remember the spot and head for it again next year. By then the new border should be dug, planted (at least some of it) and might even have a few spring flowering perennials.


  1. That Cereus is just lovely! And yes, your potted plants on the patio (nice alliteration) are looking eager! They want to get into the beds and put on lots of growth!


    1. Thanks Jason, the pots are going to have to be a bit more patient as I am still digging the border. I lost a week due to bad weather but there’s a dry run starting so will be able to get more done. Who knows – they might be planted out this side of Christmas!


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