My garden this weekend – 18th August 2013

White Cosmos looking wonderful behind Stipa Gigantica
White Cosmos looking wonderful behind Stipa Gigantica

As I seem to say every weekend at the moment there aren’t enough hours in the day and I don’t seem to be home enough at the moment to feel I am making any progress in the garden.  However, on Sunday I was determined to finish a project and make a substantial step forward.  I have been dithering around from one job to another and it has all been rather unsatisfactory.  My theory is that is I complete a big job I will get a big ‘feel good’ factor and feel more motivated and less up against it.

The Big Border beginning to come into its own
The Big Border beginning to come into its own

I mentioned a few weeks back that I had decided to put a path through the Big Border for practical reasons.  The stumbling block has been edging the path and although my sons took down some branches from the prunus and willow to help with this, much more was needed plus the branches were a little skinny.


I had a terrible nights sleep late last week thanks to a badger trying to rearrange the garden fence in the early hours followed by the cat deciding that we might as well get up as we were awake.  Anyway, aside from exhaustion, it meant that I did a lot of thinking during the early hours and one of the ideas I came up with was to use the Malvern stone that we have a large pile of to edge the path.  The stone had originally been part of a retaining wall holding up the back slope but had been taken down when my eldest was digging out the space for the workshop.  I did say a month or so ago that I was going to put a rockery on the slope so that I could indulge in my interest for alpines, and use up the rock.  However, this plan wouldn’t come together in my head and I decided that it would just look odd in the middle of the garden so the daisy border, albeit, shorter, will remain.


So today I set too and finished moving the plants that were in the path’s route.  Some went to the great compost heap in the sky, some were potted up until I decide where their new home will be and some – roses, geraniums, aquilegia and delphiniums were re-organised in the new ‘Surgary Border’.  It was surprisingly humid which made the work hot and sticky but I was determined.  In the afternoon it was time to lug the stone across the garden and edge the path.  I suspect my Dad is expecting some form of dry stone wall, after all that is what he would do.  However, there isn’t that much stone and I wanted to keep the edging narrow as the path is narrow, just wide enough for someone to walk down.  This is essentially to be an access path and the idea is that the plants will spill over the edges and you will have to push through them.

Galtonia - such an elegant plant
Galtonia – such an elegant plant

It did occur to me whilst I was pushing earth into the gaps behind the stones that the stone edging was essentially a long thin rock garden.  Here in full sun with excellent drainage was the perfect opportunity to plant the more robust alpines – result!

I am thrilled with the result.  It needs finishing with wood chip but I need one of my son’s to help with carrying the bags up the garden.  The path has open up the garden and means that I can really access all part of the borders.  It also means that I can now see the faces of the dahlia flowers which had perversely chosen to turn their backs on the top path.

The garden isn’t looking too bad if you avert your eyes from the weedy patio and borders and some of the scrubby areas which I need to re-organise.  There are some that comment on how much I move my plants around, this isn’t really the case as I ponder moving plants but they don’t always get transplanted.  I have questioned my approach recently wondering if I was doing it all wrong- I do take comments to heart – but today  reading Christopher Lloyd’s Foliage Plants my anxiety was lifted when I read:

“Because you are inexperienced, your mistakes will be numerous, but experienced gardeners do and indeed should make many mistakes also.  They should always be living on the frontiers of their experience; always  be experimenting and trying out something new.  It’s only those who are afraid of having to admit to mistakes who are frightened of making them.”

That’s good enough for me!



15 Comments Add yours

  1. Janneke says:

    Such an interesting post and I too agree with Christopher Lloyds words. Also after years of experience and garden study we remain trying out new things and experimenting, that is the fun of gardening I think. On the other side, when I plan new paths or other big projects I always try to carry out the execution in late autumn, winter or at last early spring time. Spring is for weeding and organizing, summer clipping endless hedges and deadheading and of cours enjoying the beauty of your hard work. And in autumn we have a critical look what we like to change. Well, that is about how I go to work. Wish you happy gardening, I enjoy reading how you are getting on.

  2. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Lugging those rocks saves money by not joining a gym! I have been planting bromiliards today,
    filling up some gaps around pool and bank. I think my landlady will be pleased with it when she comes back from shakey Wellington after grand-kid sitting. Took 2 Chilean visitors to Eden Gardens on Sat – s many magnolias, blossoms, helebores, viyreas, tulips starting etc etc. They loved it. A ‘Must See’ hidden gem if you visit Auckland! In an old quarry and always sheltered.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I always enjoy reading what you do in your garden. It sounds marvelous and it looks great. I love the stone border and I know it must have been a heavy job! I move plants ………. a lot.

  4. I think that the stone edge to that path will lend itself beautifully to having a few hardy alpines planted amongst them. It will soften the edge and the drainage should be adequate for them.
    Like you – I move or contemplate moving plants a lot – I think that provide you give them some tlc afterwards, they recover soon enough.
    I do like those words from Christopher Lloyd – seems very appropriate for many of us!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Angie
      Some people have enquired whether my plants have wheels on them! I dont have a problem moving plants at any time of the year if the weather is right and you water them well and look after them

  5. ownedbyrats says:

    The stone edging looks lovely – can’t wait to see more pictures as the alpines move in 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi OBR
      I was thinking about the alpines again last night and then I remembered that I planned to edge it with various geraniums I have sitting on the patio so now I am in a dilemma probably back to plan Z whatever that was for the alpines

  6. I love the lushness of your garden and the stone edging is a wonderful addition.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Charlie
      It is looking lush isnt it – well the bit I keep showing you!!! I am steadfastly not showing the rest until it is looking better!

  7. Christine Dakin says:

    Hi Helen   Many thanks for your interesting blogs. I’ve only recently signed up to your site. It does seem that you are a bit frenetic at times but I do admire you doing a major job ( the path) at this time of year when one can’t ‘see the wood for the trees’. I much prefer to do the alterations in the autumn/winter when I’m less likely to get interrupted.   The reason I’m replying like this rather than on your blog is because I have some queries about the working of your blog. I have one too, you can find if via but I hardly ever get any responses except spam. Its very dispiriting to get no feedback. I’m not at all technical but there must be something that can be done. If you have any hints about what I can do I would extremely grateful.   Keep up the good work and keep reading Christopher Lloyd, he bends and breaks the rules which gives one a sense of freedom.   Regards from   Christine


    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Christine
      I have emailed you about getting feedback but in my email I forgot to say that tagging your posts well is also important as that links to search engines and drives traffic. Use lots of tags.


  8. Pauline says:

    Your Cosmos are beautiful, I really must sow some seed of it next year. Your path looks really good and will make weeding in your border so much easier, well done!

  9. I know what you mean about few hours in the day. The weather has been kind, yet I’m often stuck indoors doing stuff like housework. Although I’m very pleased with my garden this year, I’ve already marked several plants for removal & started a seed list.

  10. Cathy says:

    Great quote, isn’t it? Sometimes I think it is better to avert your eyes from weedy patios or unsatisfactory borders and look at the best bits – and as you said in a comment we can always just show these best bits on our blogs if we choose! Shame your badger is back…. Hope you catch up on sleep soon, although with all your hard work lugging rocks that shouldn’t be much of a problem! The path is looking good and will will look all the better for having plants flopping over the edges. Is that Persicaria ‘Firetail’ in the last picture?

  11. bittster says:

    What progress! Your new path has the look of April to it, not August, and it appears to fit in perfectly. Shame on the badger.
    I need to get out there and make some changes, the relentless weather of August has me set in a rut.

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.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s