Projects underway

With the arrival of some much needed rain over the last few weeks my son and I have finally started on some of the projects I had planned for the garden.  I must admit I am lucky to have a very practical son to  help me out with my plans.

Last weekend he cleared the top corner of the  garden and took away 6 years of twigs, branches and other woody detritus.  Being a scout leader he did have a bit of an ulterior motive as he wanted it for the scout firework night bonfire.  Now before the wildlife fans get upset I still have a couple of rotting logs tucked away for invertebrates and we gave everything a good shake to give insects a chance to escape to a new woody pile we have created elsewhere.  You can see that I have a horrid concrete based fence which I can’t remove as its shared with the neighbour behind who likes it!  The tree roots also make it hard to dig the soil here so my son has used some scaffolding board we had left over and created a bit of a raised bed.  We have filled this with the decomposing turf stack I created when I lifted some of the lawn for the woodland border.  I am really thrilled with this new bed especially as I wasn’t expecting him to complete it in one day.  I am planning on planting a couple of shrubs here and maybe a tall grass.  I particularly fancy Hydrangea serrata ‘Shichidanka’ as I  think the pretty small pink flowers will light up this corner.

Having felt very tired yesterday and fiddled around with pots I decided today that I needed to start tackling the pond/bog garden project.  The sun was shining and temperatures were around 17C which is bizarre for November.  As I have mentioned before I have struggled with the pond for a couple of years, it just doesn’t work and whilst I  like seeing ponds elsewhere I don’t think I am keen enough on pond plants to struggle with one.  This year it has been particularly awful with low levels of water due to the dry season and my moisture loving  plants in the border around the pond really struggled.  Therefore I decided to utilise the failing pond to create a bog  garden to give the rheum and ligularia a better chance.

Today I started on the far side of the pond.  Lifting the plants which are now residing in the new border above until their new home is sorted.  I have cut back the liner to help with drainage and I have shovelled the soil from the back border into the middle of the pond.  I haven’t had much of an idea of what the end product will look like until today.  I had one of those eureka moment when I decided that instead of running a path through the middle of the bed it will now go  round the back in front of the dry stone wall.  There is a firm base here and all I will  have to do is to add some chipped bark whereas the first plan would mean a lot of work to create a stable base.

I’m also pleased with this decision as it means that the wall will be on view instead of hidden behind the tall ferns etc.  The slope at this point has been problematic as it has been difficult to access, I knew it was a bad idea when we did it, so I have tended to ignore it to some extent.    Over the last year I have been working on giving this bit of the slope a spring feel by planting lots of snowdrop bulbs, primulas and white perennial honesty.  Now that I can get to the bed better I will be able to see the bulbs up close and then in late spring I will re-jig it and plant some geraniums I have to add some summer colour.

Next week or when my achy body and the weather permits I need to clear the other side and cut  back the liner there too.  There is a huge rheum in here which I need to wrestle out of the ground and I suspect this will be all I actually manage in one go.  The rheum is now going in the middle of the bed, the soggiest bit.  I then have to sort out the levels which are currently all wrong and fill up the rest of the pond.  Then its a case of moving the ligularia, darmera and other plants I have rescued in to their new home.  Next year hopefully my trays of candelabra primulas will have bulked up enough to be planted out  and I am also going to add some irises – sibricia and robusta.

Oh and I planted some raspberries and a blackberry at the allotment.

So that was my weekend – how was yours?!

Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

21 thoughts on “Projects underway”

  1. I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I saw your Tweet about getting going on the bog garden!
    You are very lucky to have such a practical son. My son is great when it comes to helping me heave things about, but I haven’t quite got him to the stage where he can build a raised bed or clear a corner of the garden.
    But even a little bit of help, or involvement, or enthusiasm from my kids makes a huge difference to me. I love the idea that they’ve shared in making the garden, and I’m sure you must feel the same. It makes me feel less guilty about obsessing about it, and it means I can look at various bits and think: “Oh, yes, I remember when X and I did that bit.”

  2. PS: That concrete is unsightly, I agree, but if it’s any consolation, it is very practical. And once you’ve planted that corner, you’ll never see it.
    My fences go right down to ground level, and they’re all rotting along the bottom, which means foxes – or one occasion a neighbour’s dog! – can scramble through and make the damage worse.

    1. Victoria – I know you are right and the concrete base is practical its just ugly but Christina has suggested I paint it a dark colour which I think is a fab idea

  3. Good work Helen, I think the bog garden idea is much better than a pond, I think ponds are extremly hard work – plants and weeds grow so quickly; many bog plants are also large and dramatic which will, I think, look fantastic in your not so large garden making this an exciting part of your garden, I’m looking forward to seeing this next year as well as the daisy border. Christina PS a tip for the concrete, if you paint it a dark colour, dark brown maybe, you’d be surprised how it recedes into the background behind any plants or pots you put there.

    1. Christina – fab idea of painting the concrete, I dont know why I didnt think of it. many thanks

  4. Much work, but good eureka moment. A path at the rear of a garden bed is always a good idea. I use them often in design because it gives a more natural appearance and is functional for maintenance to boot. I can see why you struggled with your pond. The bog may be an alternative.

    1. Hi GWGT – I am really pleased with having the path at the back as it means the wall will be on view and its such a pretty wall that my Dad built for me

  5. Hi Helen. That’s a huge project you’ve taken on but I’m sure that the end result will be terrific and I have no doubt that you will post about it. By the way, opting for a bog garden instead of a pond was a very good choice because ponds are very hard to maintain or they become stinky cesspool rather quickly. I know because I had one.

    1. Hi Hanna – you are right ponds are a lot more work than people think. This is the second pond I have had and I just don’t enjoy it but I will enjoy the bog garden, well I hope so

  6. I love it when a project starts to come together and you can see that it is going to work. When I redid my garden, I made it up as I went along. Unfortunately some of my eureka moments happened a bit late and caused me extra work, but was glad I had them. I agree with Victoria about the fence. It has more positive than negatives. It is going to look great.

    1. Hi Dobby
      The problem with the eureka moments was there was no one to have them with as son was out and the cat didnt look that interested!!!

    1. Hi Elizabeth – yes thank goodness for practical sons although I have done all the bog garden on my own with some suggestions from him and I am really chufffed with myself.

  7. I saw your tweet as well the other day and was curious about your new bog garden project. Your Rheums and Ligularias will love the conditions you’re about to give them. What other plants are you thinking of putting in there?

    1. Hi Mark & Gaz
      I am planning on Candelabra Primulas, Darmera, Astilbe, iris robusta and toying with some carnivorous plants though not completely convinced they will like it

  8. Just as well you had help, that is a lot of work! I’m really looking forward to seeing the bog garden develop, I’ve wanted one for years but just never got around to it. I do love those eureka moments, it makes wakefulness in the night pondering plant moves etc worthwhile. Putting the path there makes perfect sense, and is easier to boot. Sounds as if you need to put your feet up for a bit before carrying on…

  9. You deserve your sense of accomplishment! Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a favorite idea, but you are right to turn the pond into a bog garden. I look forward to seeing the finished project. And how lucky you are to have a boy scout to help in the yard. Mine unfortunately grew up and moved to the opposite side of the country.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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