Marigolds, 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!An 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 going
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.
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.
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, and my son-in-law’s tractor and trailer they cleared the border within a day.
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.
Gazing at the border from the road, I was thrilled with the amount of garden I had to play with …
– 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, my kind and wonderful neighbour decided it was his mission to rid me of the deceased willow stump
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.
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 hole
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
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.