Garden Blog - Blog Post

Marching into March


I’m sure I have a blog post every year around this time which has some play on the month, March. This year is no different. Old habits die hard.

It’s been dry and sometimes even rather mild over the last few weeks and I’ve made myself go outside pretty much everyday and do something in the garden, usually the winter clean-up of the borders. I feel like I’ve raced though the work. Five out of six borders are now done, I also topped up the Landing Pad and various garden paths with two out of the three bulk bags of wood chips that have been sat on the front drive for over a year.

Doing a “Marie Kondo” on the Landing Pad

I’m currently mid-way through sorting out the compost heap – and I really do mean sorting it out. You see, over the few years since I made the fencing around the compost heap, almost all the pressure-treated, 10-year guaranteed, wooden posts have rotted, outwardly spilling the increasingly large volumes of material.

Tidying the Compost Heap

I got tired of looking at it and decided to clean it all up, ready for open season. I’m using the large bulk bags, that we’ve had compost, wood chips and manure delivered in over the years, to decant what’s in the compost heap – sorting the material into one of three categories:

  1. “Fresh Stuff”: the most recent material on top of the compost heap that needs to break down
  2. “Cooking”: material that’s had some time to start breaking down but is still some way off being usable compost
  3. “Ready”: usable garden compost, may need sieving and will contain seeds, and perhaps used tea bags, lego

I’ve filled four bulk bags already and have three more I can use. What’s left now is “Ready” compost and it really is good stuff. It might be full of random seeds, but the texture is light, airy and crumbly, the complete opposite of the heavy, solid clay we have out in the garden. I want to decant everything in the compost heap into the bulk bags, and then probably get rid of most of the compost by applying it as a mulch on the borders.

Beautiful Self-seeding Compost – Not available on the High Street

So, as I find myself shovelling a large pile of dirt into large bags, I’m reminded of the first time I cleared this back area of the garden, when we had the second (rotting) shed and whole load of mess. I systematically worked through it, levelling the ground, getting rid of the rubbish and flattening the shed. Now I’m going over the same area again, doing similar work, but it’s not as bad this time.

I have a lot of shovelling to do to finish the work but at least it doesn’t require too much in the way of thinking. Once all the compost has been bagged, I’m probably going to end up with some extra space in front of the (remaining) shed and it’s quite a nice view looking back through the garden towards the house. It’s also very pleasant and shady under the trees in summer (if the mosquitos aren’t biting). I lifted the canopy of the trees and it feels airy yet sheltered. It’s got me thinking about seating options, something wooden and rustic, the Lutyens bench we already have won’t do, this might be more along the lines of two stumps and a wide plank between.

Compost Heap Revisited, in 2023

While I’ve done a lot of winter clean-up already, I still need to winter-prune many of the roses, cut the hedges at the front (there’s the front in general to sort out) and the Goat Willow needs a pollard. The Banksiae needs some of its loose ends cutting back too (again) oh, and there’s the clematis and various shrubs to prune. These aren’t quick “5 minute” jobs either. I’ve been lucky with the weather being so dry recently, but it’s now rainy and pretty cold (hence finding the time to write this post). I also need to properly edge the borders. I think I said in the last post that I felt I still had lots of time to get things sorted, but it’s feeling less like it this time around, especially with the distraction of sorting this back area out – again.

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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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Lynn Hunt 07/03/2023 - 5:03 pm

Sunil, Mother Nature has been trying to fool us here with the forsythia blooming very early. But I am not going to fall in the trap and will wait to prune the roses. They took a huge hit with several days of below 0 temps at Christmas. Your compost looks glorious. Your garden will be the best ever this year!!

Sunil 09/03/2023 - 6:43 pm

Thank you Lynn, I hope really so too. There are about 11 weeks until the first Group Visit of the season and the other day we had a light covering of snow – so things really have to improve rather quickly if I’m to get the “sun-drenched mediterranean terrace” theme to work. We’ve already started the first batch of seed sowing!

Wendy 08/03/2023 - 10:11 pm

I’ve always been interested by the ‘bottom’ of gardens. It goes all the way back to when I was about 3 or 4, when exploring my grandfather’s well-tended garden I found a fascinating, gently steaming compost heap hidden amongst old, knarled apple trees. To me it was much more intruiging than the immaculately manicured Roses, and velvet striped lawn. Photos of the far end of your garden has a similar feel. You even have a landing pad in yours! Good idea about the rustic bench in that area, your more mature visitors will probably appreciate that. I do like the new slider photos showing the reveal of all your hard work. Now what we gardeners need is some more clement weather to make those spring jobs a little more pleasant. Keep looking forward to your goals for the summer.

Sunil 09/03/2023 - 6:51 pm

That’s interesting, Wendy, there’s no part of the garden that I don’t want visitors to explore, apart from perhaps inside the shed. The back of the garden was “done” a few years ago, but some things have not lasted as long as I’d wished. The area under the trees is really nice, there’s something about the lifted canopy of beech and the way the lower branches arch overhead that create a green, airy covering. It’s safe and sheltered but doesn’t feel oppressive or dark. I enjoy working under there, especially in the summer. It’s almost a shame to relegate it to having a shed and compost heap. I’ve made paths through the back so there’s much less adventuring skill needed, unlike before when we couldn’t even reach the far back corners. I’ll try and include sliders in posts more often to show the changes over the years, especially now that all the borders are created and planted.

Wendy 09/03/2023 - 7:38 pm

Yes, do keep that mysterious-looking shady part of the garden as it’s a lovely contrast to all the other areas. I have several different areas in my garden from one end to the other, and round the whole property which subtly blend together but have a differing feel to each other. It sounds strange but it does work. Well it works for me! It’s a bit frustrating to realise you need a ‘do-over’ in an area you’ve already tackled once, but as true gardeners we should come to expect that nothing can stay the same forever since the plants grow and mature and unless we hack everything back to basics, we must adapt to the evolving conditions. It’s all part of the gardening journey. I’m a bit envious of your tall mature tree canopy. It must have been quite a sanctuary in last years hot summer weather.


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