Garden Blog - Blog Post

Filling Paths and Planting Plants


Another week of mostly dry weather (there were some exceptions) has meant another week of somewhat intensive gardening – racing to get everything done before the season draws to a close.

Three main items make the headlines for this past week:

  1. The small rectangular border in the patio has been weeded for the very last time, again
  2. I’ve filled in the path in the final border with wood chips and also renewed another path at the back of the garden, under the trees
  3. After many years, the dream of planting the final border is coming true and turning into a bit of a nightmare

Starting with that small rectangular patch of soil in the patio, the one that was covered in weeds and new this year – was also covered in sand and cement from the patio work – it finally got the better of me and I spent part of a day digging and sieving deep to remove the perennial weeds and also the cement, stones and lumps of sand that we washed into it from cleaning the cement mixer. It was very satisfying to return this to a blank, beautiful, light, friable empty area of soil and level over the surface, knowing that by the next morning there were probably going to be fox prints all over it.

I still don’t have a plan for what I want to do with this tiny patch and so inevitably, it gets covered in weeds, which get worse and worse until I snap and then attack it with the enthusiasm of an over-excited Labrador. Every time this happens I promise myself that “this is the last time I will weed this area” and of course, it never is. I keep telling myself that I’ll stay on top of the weeding but of course, I never do.

And so we go round and round this cycle of long neglect followed by frenetic restoration, only to neglect again.

I received three bulk bags of wood chips this week as well. The best part of two were used to fill in the wood chip path in the final border so that people no longer confuse the path edging as some sort of water feature, water slide or log flume. With the rest I went to the back of the garden under the trees and literally dug out the old path that ran along the back and re-filled it with the remaining wood chips.

Wood chip paths and areas (such as the Landing Pad) make for a lovely natural look but irritatingly, they tend to decompose over time. The paths at the back got to the point where they were effectively very spongy compost; excellent growing medium, not so good for indicating path. Some of the wood chip paths are lined underneath with membrane, which I’m hoping buys me more time before they inevitably have to be also re-done.

The main theme of the week has been planting, planting and more planting in the final border. After all the preparation work, the very last item on the list for making any new border is the planting. I’ve had a large number of young plants – sown in Spring – waiting to go into this border and this has been their week.

It was a rather incredible feeling to plant the very first plant in this new border – which happened to be a Cupid’s Dart (Catanache). That “honeymoon” feeling lasted for the next five or so plants. Then the euphoria gradually calmed down over the next ten or so plants. Twenty plants later and it was starting to get repetitive, fifty plants later and I’m questioning my will to live.

I’ve lost count of the number of plants that have gone in but we’re safely past the two-hundred mark and it’s taken that many to start coming to the end of what I had waiting on the staging. I still have a few days worth of planting to do before I run out of stock, but that only means I need to wait until next Spring, when I start sowing the seeds for filling in any gaps that are left.

By way of a plant list we have:

  • Catanache Caerulea (Cupid’s Dart, blue)
  • Rudbeckia “Gold Star”
  • Coreopsis “Early Sunrise”
  • Aquilegia McKana Giants (mixed)
  • Echinacea Purpurea
  • Verbena Bonariensis
  • Achillea Ptarmatica
  • Lychnis “Vesuvius”
  • Dierama Pulcherrimum
  • Echinops Ritro
  • Gypsophila Paniculata
  • Stipa Tennuissima
  • Ferns (from spores)
  • Hesperantha

There are several more but I only have a few each of them (ver poor germination rates), or they’ve not been sown yet so I don’t want to declare them here officially until they’re safely planted in bulk in the border.

You might notice that the list contains mainly “standard”, “normal” or “basic” plants, varieties and cultivars, there’s nothing outrageous or new here. I’m after solid, traditional, reliable, “good-doers”, those also seem to align with what the wildlife like best too. There are also lots of later-flowering plants and I’ve purposefully gone for that as the garden lacks for flowers and interest towards the end of the season so this border aims to fill that gap meaning we’re not having to rely on annuals to carry the flowering until the winter-flowering plants start.

I’ve gone for the herbaceous border style of planting where I’ve put the plants in individual blocks, some are in drifts. Some plants, like the Verbena Bonariensis, I’ll plant in long ribbons across the length of the border and I expect I’ll do this with annual Calendula too, leaving it to self-seed and return where it likes it. I did some light pruning of the ornamental cherry that sits on the border edge and also removed the lower branches of the inherited Camellia to get more light towards the back of the border.

In all, it’s working out well.

Looking through older pictures the Willow border was in this exact same state of planting this time last year and now it’s looking glorious. I only hope that this new final border will behave the same way. The plants I’m putting in now are so small and look so fragile, I just can’t imagine them bulking up and filling out. I’ll have to wait until next season.

For now though, I need to carry on planting until the patio staging is just a barren mess of empty trays and strewn pots.

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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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Steph 15/09/2021 - 4:52 pm

A herb or vegetable garden would probably work well on the patio.

Sunil 16/09/2021 - 9:53 am

Hello Steph, I was thinking something similar too, the only frustrating thing is that the bed is right up against a tall hedge and so only comes into sun late in the spring/early summer and by now is already going into full shade.

Jean 02/10/2021 - 10:39 pm

Oh, It’s exciting to plant those new borders and then wait with anticipation for them to fill in. I love the look of the wood chip path. I have some old wood chip paths that have long since disappeared. One turned out to be a perfect environment for white clover, so now it is a clover path. 😉

Sunil 04/10/2021 - 5:13 pm

That’s the problem with wood-chip paths – they’re always decomposing and need top-ups and sometimes, just completely re-doing. The Landing Pad desperately needs a top-up too and I’m wondering if I can use the old composted chips to top-dress the borders as it has the perfect friable texture – you just can’t buy it in the shops!


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