Vase on Monday and My Big Dig

marigolds and argyranthemumsMarigolds, bronze fennel and argyranthemums in a goblet, all from my new long border

The story of my BIG DIG:

I moved to this house in March 2007 and since then I have been battling with the border on the north side of the drive

When I arrived it was neatly clipped (and very dull) as you can see below – so not me!DSCF0013An old field hedge, it was full of brambles, ivy and hawthorn inter-planted with laurel, lonicera, a ghastly variegated bamboo and the whole lot was plagued with never-ending bindweed.

I started to clear out the bramble, ivy and hawthorn but it was hard goingMay2007 006

The border gets very wet in the winter. I’m not one for clipped hedges so I planted a contorted willow I’d grown from a cutting, hoping it would enjoy the spot and soak up some of the water. I slashed and burned the baddies and let the laurels grow tall.

Oh boy, how those laurels love to grow! They were always needing to be cut back.

garden hedge

I loved how the willow arched over the drive and knew it was Spring when I saw it with the Amalanchier against a blue sky.

against a blue sky

The photo above was taken in April 2018 when I noticed that the willow was showing signs of distress. The leaves were fewer than usual and once formed shrivelled and went brown. I hoped it was a temporary blip.

I battled on against the bamboo which got into everything and was coming up through next door’s paving. Horrid stuff! I could not see how I would ever get rid of it.

Enough was enough – it all had to GO!

The demolition squad came in and with the help of a hired stump grinder, I love a good gadget,stump grinder and my son-in-law’s tractor and trailer they cleared the border within a day.DSC_0563

I wanted to save the willow, and was in denial about the state of it, but you can see how poorly it was. This was in June when it should have been in full leaf.IMG_1534

Gazing at the border from the road, I was thrilled with the amount of garden I had to play with …bare border

– not so thrilled with how the tractor had damaged the drive though, hey- ho!

We were in the middle of a heat-wave but I was determined to dig through every grain of soil to remove any bits or bramble, bamboo and bindweed, before putting in precious plants.

What a job! I knew that no-one else would be as thorough as me, or as determined, so I carried on, digging in 30 minute bursts intertwined with some sitting down with a crochet hook.

Sadly, I realised, the willow was past hope. Amazing to think it had grown that tall from a twig in about 10 years. A guy in the village offered to chop it down for me in July – he looked a bit precarious up that ladder, but he did the job


And then there was the mighty stump to get rid of, IMG_1758my kind and wonderful neighbour decided it was his mission to rid me of the deceased willow stumpIMG_1761

he laboured for days with beads of sweat sprouting like a fountain from his forehead, but eventually it was out!

Everyone who passed made helpful suggestions about what I could do about the winter flooding, crates were mentioned and all sorts of other ideas but all solutions came with a heafty price tag. I left the hole to monitor the water level and kept on digging and sifting through the rest of the soil.

The hole started filling up with water in October and by November it just sat there for weeks.flood

My solution was to build up the soil to take plants away from the water level and choose plants that can cope with these conditions. The RHS site is helpful: Wet and Dry Soils.

I ordered 3 bulk bags of top soil from the Sherborne Turf Company


and had them dumped straight in the holeIMG_2613


And now after all that digging and delving I have the joy of planting.

As suggested by the RHS: Geums, stacchys, hardy geraniums and persicaria were ordered from Dorset Perennials

Dorset Perennials

Some plants came from the local market and some were transplanted from other parts of the garden ……… and look at it now! (filmed on 8.May)

I feel very proud of myself!

If the plants get through the winter I will think about planting a crab apple next spring.

The border includes Dianthus Carthusianorum a pink perennial with scented and edible flowers which I have grown from seed I collected from a friend’s garden. Happy Days! The flowers are in bud right now but I’m hoping they will appear in a future ‘Vase on Monday’.

Do pop along over to see how other gardeners are celebrating Spring or Autumn on Cathy’s blog, Rambling in the Garden.

45 responses to “Vase on Monday and My Big Dig

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  5. Wow all that hard work has paid off , it looks amazing! We still visit Dorchester market just for the plants! Sarah x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! That’s quite a project but so much to look forward to as the plants develop.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What A huge amount of work you have done, and it is beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! What a job! It is looking really really nice now! I can’t wait to “see” it the end of summer. I lost a Willow a few years back. I love Willows. We can never find a nursery that wants to sell them! They think they are “weeds”. I’ll have to try to find one in the woods one day. The American version of the weeping willow grows fast!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That is an impressive amount of work – wow! And what a kind neighbor to dig out the stump. Precious!
    Your border is gorgeous, Sandra, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a lot of work, but what a wonderful difference. You should be very pleased with the results. I know what you mean about bindweed. It gets in everything and there is never an end to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You are thorough and it will pay off. The border is long and looking lovely. So much nicer than the ugly hedge! It pays to be bold sometimes

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Murtagh's Meadow

    That looks like a lot of hard work!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a transformation! The Big Dig certainly had drama, challenges and a touch of melancholy but you did a great job and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy your new border much more than that old hedge.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. That’s amazing, Sandra – well done you! How exciting to create a new planting space. All that potential and what you have done already is brilliant! ps your marigolds and argyranthemums make a lovely vase!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Cathy – it is a challenge to find plants that will grow there happily but an interesting one.
      The argyranthemums are new to me, I bought them in the market. They are a welcome pop of early colour. I will sprinkle some marigold seeds amongst them and hope for the pink and orange combination next year.


      • The argyranthemums are a pretty double variety – I don’t think they are always hardy though, although at least I have not had them continue for another year. I will have a think and see if there is anything I can send you (although perhaps after garden opening season when I have more time to think!)

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow. That was a ton of work! But you did it right, no short cuts like I would do and pay for later. Well done! It’s going to be amazing when it’s all grown in.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Phew! Keep us posted with pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Magical transformation to a beautiful border.I like your vase as well. I have Bronze fennel in my garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You have every right to feel proud of yourself and can look forward to watching how your lovely new planting develops over the coming months.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Well done You, Truly a magnificent achievement. I would like your neighbour to move next to me, a treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Lisa at Greenbow

    You should be proud of such a transformation. All of your hard work has definitely paid off. That big green blob of a border was definitely not you. This border full of color and texture is definitely you. I bet all will live. You have given them such a good base to grow in. Happy in a Vase on Monday too. Pretty posies.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I’m impressed!! That was a huge amount of work and you have made an incredible difference to your driveway. You are the second person today who has mentioned bronze fennel (both of you in the UK) which is new to me. The first mention was more about its nuisance power as it takes over the garden via spreading and seeding – but it sure is pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What a transformation! I think that hard work has definitely paid off. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Lovely! And you still have space to play and add more. Are you working to a colour scheme, or just putting in things you love?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m randomly putting in things that I think will cope with the conditions. Colour-wise I try to stick to pinks, purples, blues and whites with a touch of orange here and there – but it is a bit hit and miss when I buy things from the market. I would like to introduce more perennial edibles as time goes on.

      Liked by 1 person

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