My Garden This Weekend – 14th September 2014


I have been a busy bee this weekend and have achieved lots of the plans I have had rattling around in my head in the early hours when I haven’t been able to sleep recently.  I have been saying for some weeks now that the patio border needed a re-jig to give the newish Edgeworthia more space.  So today I lifted a large Astrantia and divided it. In the space left behind I planted the Edgeworthia which was formerly in the space to the right of the above photo.  The Astrantias have been replanted to the front of the border along with Hosta ‘Cherry Berry’ and a Painted Japanese Fern which was being smothered by the Kirengeshoma palmata. I am much happier with the border now which is important as this is my view from the living room window.


Another of the things I have been wanting to do is to plant up the assorted alpine perennials into large pots.  I have planted up five shallow pots with a whole range of plants; trying to group plants that need the same conditions together.  The plants should grow better than in individual pots and I don’t really have the right environment in the garden for them so this is the best solution.


I also rescued a couple of ferns from the large woodland border where they were being swamped by other plants and replanted them along the woodland slope which is taking on a real ferny feel.  I have been struggling with the badger visiting the garden again despite the lack of tulip bulbs or bird food.  He seems to be fascinated with digging up my Arisaema which are on this slope or alternatively trying to fell the Cardiocrinum giganteum which I am trying to establish.  I am hoping by planting more ferns and other perennials on the slope I will deter him though I doubt this will actually work.


But the thing I am really pleased, in fact triumphant about, is tackling the corner above.  This photo was taken about a month ago when the dead Acer was removed.  Since then I have decided that the huge willow which dominates the top of the garden and which blocks the light to this area and much of the garden causing plants to lean needs to be significantly reduced in height.


The tree is hard to photograph as it is so vast but the right hand branch grows across the Prunus tree causing it to grow sideways instead of upwards.  I have instructed a tree surgeon to reduce the willow down to about 4 metres, just above the split in the trunk, and to remove a couple of branches from the Prunus to stop it tipping over.  The neighbour behind me doesn’t like anything over the fence so cuts all the branches back and this means the tree has grown lopsided and is now, along with the Willow, in serious danger of tipping over.  The removal of so much overhead foliage and branches is going to have quite an impact on the garden and the light; and hopefully moisture.


I have cleared the weeds and scrubby stuff from the corner and I have had to dig out a whole load of soil.  The badger, yes him again, attacked the small retaining wall under the compost bins the other winter digging huge holes and tipping the stones all over the place.  Now the Acer has gone I can get into the space and pull back the piles of earth created about a year ago and refind the wall and attempt to rebuild it.  My dry stone wall building skills are not in the same league as my father’s or even my eldest son’s but they will do for now. I have now rebuilt the wall and it isn’t too bad; it certainly looks better than the above photo.


The soil I have been pulling back is very good as its the overflow from the compost bins above.  What you can’t see is that one of the wooden bins is collapsing and the compost piles are ridiculous.  So next weekend I need to tackle them, pulling off the uncomposted stuff and then I am going to drag the rotted down compost down to the area in the photo above.  This will be spread around to improve the soil and drainage and then I will leave this area until Spring.  This way I can see how the removal of so much of the willow and prunus will affect the space and decide what to plant here.  I have a whole host of ideas but I suspect to start with there will be at least two shrubs or maybe a shrub and a small tree.  I also want to paint the fence this week in the evenings while I have the chance. I am also thinking of getting some sort of screening panels to go between the bamboo and border and the compost bins behind.

I hadn’t planned to tackle the corner this weekend but I am thrilled with my achievement even if I ache all over.


16 Comments Add yours

  1. Aching’s good. As is lopping willows. My Mum-in-Law has a marvellous one in her garden which she prunes back to a two metre trunk every year. It looks great – I even like the brutality of it during the winter. Thought I’d tell you for what it’s worth. D

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi David
      I should have tackled it years back but I thought it would cost a fortune plus there is no real access but my eldest is going to dispose of the wood in various ways which keeps the cost down. I am quite excited about the prospect just waiting to learn when it will all happen

  2. Gosh your soil looks stony. Looks like you’ve got a lot done this weekend. Is the willow in your garden? Its just that the roots could be having a detrimental effect in general. Anyway, I’m sure that having it reduced will be so much better and let in so much light.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Christine
      It’s not really stones although there is the odd lump of Malvern stone in it which i have gathered over the years to make low retaining walls. The willow is in the garden but much higher up the garden in a area where the roots don’t really have an impact luckily

  3. rusty duck says:

    Glad to see you are still busy shifting stuff around.. epimediums were my victims this weekend, who knew they could grow so big? There is such satisfaction to be gained from getting things in the right positions. It’s like a drug. And it makes the aching all worthwhile.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      Some of my epimediums are getting big, think I will need to divide them next year. It is like a drug, my favourite bit of gardening!

    2. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      I have some epimediums which are getting quite large and will probably need dividing next year, in fact theyprobably need dividing now but I dont know where to move the divisions to so I am sticking my head in the sand.

  4. Diana Studer says:

    we are quietly battling our future neighbour (who has swallowed off to England, back in October). His Brazilian pepper tree is hacked back to an UGLY stump on his side, and billowing over our patio instead. GRRRumble, but we’ll get it sorted in time.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Diana
      Arent neighbours annoying especially those that dont share our interest in plants!:)

  5. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Mmmmmm – was there any time to smell the roses?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne
      I always have time to smell the roses but I like and enjoy working in the garden when the weather is nice. There is plenty of time for sitting the rest of the year

  6. johnvic8 says:

    Isn’t it wonderful, Helen, to have spots in an older garden where you can start all over?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi John
      Yes I love start afresh with a border so many opportunities and plants to discover

  7. Hi Helen, there is a lovely Edgeworthia chrysantha in the Oxford Botanic Garden if you are ever passing that way in Spring. In fact, it is a lovely garden and well worth a visit if you need a break from your extreme industriousness, which puts my gardening efforts at home to shame. Helen

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Helen
      But you garden all day at work so its not the same. I work in an office doing paperwork and my own paperwork at home is awful. I have been to Oxford Botanic Garden, I spent a delightful day with Tim Walker learning about plant names but if I am over that way in Spring I will look out for the Edgeworthia. Whilst it has wonderful winter flowers I was actually tempted by the big leaves!

  8. I always enjoy a walk through your garden, the photos are always so enjoyable.

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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