The general theme over the last week or two is neatly encapsulated in this blog post’s title; that is, “be in a continual state of panic over the garden, the solution to which is to continue to garden, manically, preferably”.
The Winter clean-up is mainly over, which is good seeing as we’ve moved well into Spring and can almost consider this time of year, “early summer”. It’s run into the back of the patio work and over-lapped a border re-jigging.
Starting with the Winter clean-up: I haven’t quite finished going around all the large borders with the grass shears and lawn edger to create those beautiful, razor-sharp border edges that the plants will simply flop over the top of and hide completely. There’s even some weeding to do – especially with the main border. The planted perennials are dense, but we didn’t have enough plants last year to fill out the border entirely and so there are wide-open gaps (a current source of panic and late-night online window shopping).
Then comes the patio work: After the clearing, cleaning and sealing the patio, I re-assembled all the patio pots into a couple of neat rows and filled them with soil for planting for the summer. For the first time this year, we dug deep into our own compost heap and used a mix of manure, commercial compost, home-made compost and spent soil to create a soil mix for the pots and the bedding to grow in.
I know we reduced the number of pots on the patio but it seemed to take many more wheelbarrow loads of soil mix than it reasonably should to fill all the pots. I did have a really enjoyable time afterwards, planting the bedding from the several trays of plants we grew from tiny plugs. It’s that 95% preparation, 5% planting ratio again; I wish I found sieving compost as thrilling as doing plant combinations for pots but alas, I prefer one over the the other despite the necessity of both.
We’ve previously bought “garden-ready” bedding both from garden centres and online. This is the first year we bought small bedding plugs online that we potted up and raised in the greenhouse, ready to be planted out when we’re feeling lucky (some of the stuff is frost tender). I think we’ll do it again. While it’s more expensive than seed, it’s much cheaper than buying larger plants that have more trouble adapting from their greenhouse/garden centre conditions to the conditions outside on our patio.
Finally we get to one of this year’s “mini” projects. I shouldn’t put “mini” in quotes as it really is “mini” in the scheme of things. Basically I re-did the bulbous part of Fruit Avenue. It’s part of a larger plan to overhaul the entire border. Out of all the borders in the garden, Fruit Avenue has been the most disappointing. It was supposed to be filled with fruit trees, fruit bushes, fruit canes and fruit vines. The whole border was meant to overflow with plums, cherries, raspberries, gooseberries, red currants, black currants, Logan berries, black berries, blueberries and wineberries.
The reality has been markedly different. The nine large current bushes barely managed half a handful of fruit – in their lifetime, the same with most of the other fruiting plants. We had a reasonable number of wineberries and black berries but virtually everything else was a complete failure.
Half the problem has been the fruit trees shading out all the other plants as they have grown and matured, the other half has been the wildlife eating the produce, sometimes as early as the blossom stage – looking at you, wood pigeons.
My disappointment and dismay with the border led to a “plant anything in it and see”, which just made the border look a mess with no overall cohesion, randomly scattered plants and plenty of weeds. I used to actively avoid that part of the garden as I just didn’t want to look at nor acknowledge the problem.
In the last week, I finally started to grasp the bull by the horns on this border and I changed and replanted a large section of it to be much more along the lines of a woodland theme – which is apt – as this section has four trees that cast full to dappled shade. Only a thin strip along one edge is in full sun and I relocated the sun-lovers there.
I’ll write more about what I did in a future post, but suffice to say that I am very happy with the result and I hope the plants are much better suited to their new positions and conditions, otherwise you’ll be seeing that blog post title again many more times.