It’s been another week and the weather has remained dry, if not sunny. That means I’ve been able to have an increasingly tiring, unbroken run of days out in the garden finishing the final border and doing a few other odd-jobs.
Last time around, I’d just finished sculpting the final border surface into a lovely smooth shape, perfectly ready for planting.
Only that it’s not quite yet.
The border is missing a few accessories that I’ve spent this week putting in. First is a curving access path that allows me (and guests) to reach most parts of the border without having to step into the middle of it. It’s a civilised way of being among the plants. As is usually the case with me, instead of going for just some easy stepping stones or a rough trampled path, I’ve gone for an industrial grade, metal-edged, felt-lined, wood-chip path.
The wood chips are yet to arrive but when they do, I’ll be filling what currently looks to be a water feature or log flume with wood chips to complete it. It’s basically the same as the path I put in the Willow border, just this one has curves, not corners.
The second accessory is a watering system with a soaker (leaky) hose. We have this system in two other borders and it is fantastic. To be able to spend a few minutes connecting the hose and then just leave the tap on for a few hours as the border gets a gentle and through soak with almost no effort is a godsend. I initially wasn’t going to put a soaker system in but the soil level ended up much higher than I originally expected and the higher the level the drier the soil.
In the end, it was just less work and headache to put a watering system in now rather than have to worry about thirsty and wilting plants in subsequent years. It certainly beats watering such a large area by hand – it’s simply not possible to do it effectively and would waste a huge amount of water.
I also took the opportunity to sort out the very corner of the garden right at the back behind the shed, which has just been a bare patch of soil for a few years. It is one of the most challenging areas of the garden and the local supermarket recently came up with the answer: cyclamen. Lots of them. At less than £1 each, we almost cleared the shelves of these cyclamen, took them home and planted them out in this area. Now every time we look through the arch by the shed, there are a mass of vibrant pink and red cyclamen flowers to look at. I’m hoping they’ll establish well and gradually knit together. I’m also hoping to introduce some epimediums and the ubiquitous ferns as well for a bit more interest.
This dark, dry area of the garden is never going to be able to support a show-stopper specimen plant, I’ll just have to be more creative with tougher plants instead.
With the corner of the garden planted and out of the way, my attention turned back to the pergola base that runs along the fence, which was just left rough, for the grass to grow back and we might have popped in some Stipa Tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass), which seems to do very well from seed.
I wasn’t satisfied with the messy look so decided to formally split the grass and “border” (it’s not big enough to be called a border, really) with some metal edging that runs the whole length of the pergola. Some weeding later and we now have a neat edge which I can back-fill and try planting tough annuals like Cerinthe, Calendula or Bidens. This long and narrow spot is very sunny but also very dry and plants will have to complete with the rhododendron hedge behind the wooden fence. There’ll be no watering system going in here.
So with that area neatened up, I’m now starting to really run down the list of those “5 minute” jobs that don’t come under the “routine maintenance” category. There’s the compost heap posts to repair, the rectangular patch of soil in the patio that is full of weeds (again), some garden rubbish to clear away and then I’m all out of ideas.
The dry weather is continuing this coming week so I’m hoping I can get on with the exciting job of planting the final border with all those small plants on the patio staging that I grew from seed way back earlier in the year. They’ll be going in just in the nick of time too, I’m already noticing the days getting shorter and the sun isn’t as high as it used to be. We’re starting to get that mellow yellow light and it won’t be long before the leaves start to turn.