My Garden This Weekend – 1st April 2013

The sight that greeted me when I returned home on Saturday

The sight that greeted me when I returned home on Saturday

As I mentioned in my post last weekend I have had the last week off work but the weather has not been at all kind to me.  However, saying that it has been nice to relax and spend time with my youngest son, who is home from University.  The snow that fell a week ago on Saturday has finally gone and if you look carefully there are all sorts of plants putting their heads above the ground including peonies, Solomons seal, meconopsis poppy and geraniums.  I am hoping that we don’t have any more real drops in temperature which will affect these new shoots.   The Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ is just beginning to open its flowers and should look wonderful by the end of this week.

I have rearranged the greenhouse twice in a bid to try to make some more space for seed trays as well as for the trays of seedlings which I will hopefully have in a few weeks.  I just need some warmer weather so I can move things on from the cold frame which will make room for plants to be moved out of the greenhouse. There are a few things beginning to germinate but mainly alpines in the cold frame: Primula wilsonii anisodora and Delphinium requienii as well as some Dahlia x Twynings Eight seeds which Karen gave me last year.

At the end of Sunday after my efforts

At the end of Sunday after my efforts

The only real work that has happened in the garden is down to my sons.  While I was at the monthly meeting of the local Hardy Plant Society on Saturday they started on extending the steps up the garden.  I have been waiting to do this for probably 3 years and am absolutely thrilled with the result.  When I got home the first 3 risers had gone in and the steps levelled.  On Sunday I collected stone from around the garden – we are always digging up lumps of Malvern stone – and edged the steps.  My father is excellent at constructing dry stone walls and makes it look easy; it isn’t and I was only trying to get two layers.  But it will do for now and I know that later in the year my supply of stone will increase due to the next major project. I then put down some path membrane which we had bought back from the allotment when I gave it up last year and topped dressed the steps with left over gravel from when we put in the bike store.  Sadly, and inevitably, we didn’t have enough gravel so another four bags were bought today and the job finished while I was at my local AGS group’s show (more  of that later in the week).  I am amazed at the visual difference the steps make, they tie the garden together better and finally I can stop sliding over backwards on the mud. Oh and the third compost bin was also put up as we had no where for the lifted ‘turf’ to go.

The view when I got home today

The view when I got home today

The big project is that I have agreed to my eldest son having a workshop in the garden for his woodwork.  He currently works in the garage but it is far from ideal – being dark and full of garden tools etc.  We looked at converting the garage into a workshop by removing the front door and bricking it up with a window but building regulations are demanding and we would have to dig foundations, add insulation etc.  Plus cost aside I still need to store the gardening stuff and it would  also restrict access to the garden and back of the house.  I did consult a builder I know and am waiting on a quote but something didn’t sit right in my mind so I suggested to my son he might like a shed instead, with power and insulation.  Surprisingly, he was more thrilled with this idea than the garage conversion – there must be something deep in the psyche of men that they get excited about  sheds!!  We have worked out that the best size will be 8′ x 8′ and he has found some with a high roofs which is important as he is 6′ 5″ but we also have to make sure the roof is low enough not to need planning permission!!

I have agreed that he can have the area to the right of the top of the path as this is one of the few flat areas in the garden and an area I tend to ignore as I can’t decide on an identity for it.  We will need to cut back into the slope so the shed is set right back and not quite so dominant.  The result of this is I have many plants to re-home and that is on top of the moves I have been trying to do over winter and the new border I want to create which I have plants ready for.  I have concluded the only way to cope is to pot the plants up and then to rethink where they are going.  Luckily my son is happy to wait for a bit and is going to help me create the new  border but I now have lots and lots to do so I really need the weather to warm up a little.

The local AGS group's show

The local AGS group’s show

I know I will lose some gardening space but I am digging up the back lawn which will give me more room, plus I will have more space in the garage for overwintering plants which will free up space in the greenhouse and most importantly I really want to support my son who I think has a bit of a talent for  wood-turning. I also think the workshop will help the garden overall since I think in some strange way it will add structure and the paths will make more sense.

I have decided the only way forward is to get a thick dull novel which will help me sleep at night!

One step at a time – stone in the garden

These are my newish steps which I thought I would take a photo of in response to Gardening Gone Wild’s latest design workshop on stone in the garden.  My garden is very sloping and I cant afford to terrace it plus as the garden slopes up from the house I didnt want to look out of my window at lots of walls.  These steps are at the top of a steep flight of stairs.  Up until this year there was grass here – well earth with the odd bit of grass.  It was very slippery and I jarred my back on more than one occasion.  My Dad and I built these steps.  I am really chuffed with them as they only cost the price of 4 bags of gravel.  We used an old scaffolding board for the risers held in place with some angle iron that we had and then we did the edges with some stone that left my the previous owners.  I have planted along the edges with Geraniums and Dianthus and the plan is that they will drape gracefully over the edges!

I have also used gravel on one side of my wildlife pond to create a sort of dry river bed. This allows me access to the pond and the birds enjoy using it to access the water as well.  This isnt the best picture as the cherry blossom has started to fall and is everywhere.  In the bottom right hand corner you can just see part of my dry stone wall – to give it is grand title.  My garden slops more steeply at the back and so we have built a short dry stone wall across the width of the garden from which the garden slopes upwards.  As I live on the side of the Malvern Hills (hence the slopes) my soil is clay full of lumps of granite and these are what we have used to build the wall.

One of the benefits of the dry stone wall is that I am beginning to find all sorts of goodies self-seeding themselves – just like this fern

Last but not least the wall makes a lovely backdrop for this creeping Phlox