The Advance of Progress

It’s been a few weeks and surprise, surprise, it’s yet another post on the final border in the garden; it’s just so large that one blog post cannot possibly convey its sheer size and grandeur (or what will hopefully be grandeur once it’s planted and established).

I’ve had a laser-sharp focus on completing this border and almost everything else has been somewhat neglected. The glare of my attention – pent up for years – is finally unleashing itself on this centre-piece and I don’t think the garden quite knows what’s hit it.

I have lost count of the number of bulk bags of compost and manure that have gone into the border but I would not be surprised if we were at five or six, with a couple more on the way because the only reason I’ve stopped to write this blog post is because I’m out of materials, which means that for the third time in almost a decade, the drive is actually clear. It will stay clear for a whole 24 hours until the next delivery of manure is expected.

I’ve gradually progressed across the border and am now at the tapering end so each segment I work on takes less time than the previous. The existing soil I’ve been digging seems essentially dead. It’s heavy, airless and anaerobic with no worms, no structure and no life. We had considered “no-dig” for this border, but no-dig works best when the land has been previously cultivated. This soil has been grass for many decades, then covered with polythene for almost eight years, the only way to sort it out is to go in with all my garden tools and experience at the ready.

A picture of a clematis – as a break from all the bare soil

The electric tiller that cultivated the very first border we made was brought to bear and it takes the heavy work out of breaking up the soil, mixing other ingredients in (like fertiliser, compost and manure), and most importantly, it incorporates huge amounts of air. The compost helps to add soil structure and the manure adds in much needed life in the form of bacteria, fungi and tiny creatures. These three ingredients, along with the water already present, should hopefully kick-start the revivification of the border soil and bring it back to life, allowing it to sustain the dense planting I will be using it for.

A very unruly-looking Cornus Controversa Variegata

There’s something special and motivating in knowing that with each spade-turn and barrowful of material, the stage is being set to give the best possible chance for plants to thrive in it thereafter. Once the plants develop and their roots grow throughout the soil, the whole soil system will become self-sustaining. A top-up will be needed on occasion but the preparation work I’m doing now is a one-way process to a healthy, diverse and full border.

Stargazer Lilies on the patio

That’s the aim/plan/hope, anyway.

In the meantime, I will keep advancing on the border, trying to get it dug, aired, mixed, fertilised and levelled, ready for planting. I need to put an access path through it as well at some point. I’m hoping it’s not long now an I think the seedlings waiting on the patio can feel it too.


  1. Wow, you don’t do things halfway! Looks very promising – I look forward to seeing it when it is all planted.


    1. Thanks, Jason, I’ll also be very, very relieved to see it planted up as well!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.