My garden this weekend – 21st September 2014

Aster trinervius 'Stardust'
Aster trinervius ‘Stardust’

Unlike some parts of the country we have been lucky to have a couple of days rain towards the end of the week.  It was mostly light persistent rain but there were a few real downpours which have filled up the water butts and everything is looking fresh again.  Given that Saturday was a damp and overcast day I ‘gardened’ under cover repotting all the miniature bulbs which are stored in the greenhouse now.  There are already some signs of narcissus and oxalis appearing which makes me really happy.  The greenhouse is being given over to overwintering my various alpines so won’t have any heating this year; I will be storing the tender plants in the garage which has a good size window with a work-surface under it.


I am finding that my tastes have been changing over the last year or so and I am becoming more focussed on certain plant groups which should hopefully mean that the garden looks less chaotic in the future! I am pleased with some of the plant combinations I have created this year.  At the moment this combination of crocosmia, witch hazel with its autumn leaves and the asters is making me smile – it is so vibrant.


Today, due to my general need to sort, tidy and have a more cohesive approach today, with the sun shining, I decided to continue the clearing I started last weekend and tackle my nemesis – the compost heaps. As you can see my compost heaps are a far cry from the organised and tidy heaps we regularly see on Gardeners’ World but I would say to Monty, in my defence, that I am an amateur garden who has a full time demanding job and no time for turning and moving stuff from one heap to another.


The two heaps nearest to you in the chaotic photo were emptied this spring, truly, but we never got around to emptying the one nearest the fence and I suspect its been a good year or so since we did and even then I don’t think its been emptied properly for years.  I only needed to remove a small amount of the top layer before I came across good quality compost.  Look how wonderfully friable it is – Monty would be impressed, well maybe!


A couple of hours later and not only had I emptied the bin completely – yes me on my own, both my sons were out – but I had dismantled and removed the bin.  Some of the lower planks had rotted through which is hardly surprising.  The amount of compost was ridiculous.  I shovelled it down to the border below where the Acer was removed the other week and where I want to plant some new shrubs and add hellebores and spring bulbs.  The stones at the front of the area are a loose retaining wall which I need to redo once everything else is sorted.


The height of the border has significantly increased but it will go down once it has had time to settle and been rained on plus I want to rake it down the border further once some of the perennials have died back. The compost is so thick here that you sink in it as you walk over it – this makes me very happy indeed.  You can also see that I have painted the fence alongside the space for the compost bin. I would have painted more except I could feel my muscles seizing up – I will do the rest as each bit is more accessible.  It all looks very smart but if you look the other way…


You can see some of the chaos I have created in the process and left for now!  The bin needs rebuilding and will be shorter than before due to the rotten timbers.  I then need to fill it with a pile of stuff you can’t see and also tip the overflow from the other bins into it.  Then in a month or so when I have tidied and cut back more perennials I will empty out the other bins and use the compost to mulch them.

So for the second weekend on the trot I am tired but happy.  I think the weather is starting to turn so I will need to start moving tender plants under cover in the next week or so.  In the meantime I am researching shrubs for the border above and also peonies for somewhere else.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh please send me some rain. It has been very dry here in New England and plants are shriveling. I will have to water a bit tomorrow. I know what you mean about changing tastes. It is good to redecorate in the garden as well as the house. Love your purple wheelbarrow.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Layanee
      This is the first rain we have had for a month which is unusual here. Love my purple wheelbarrow, so girly!

  2. Alison says:

    I admire your compost, I virtually never tackle my compost heaps, the longer I leave them the more I suspect they are full of furry creatures. I really must follow your good example.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Alison
      I know what you mean about furry creatures but since I got the cat who is a real mouser I don’t worry so much

  3. Anna says:

    What a fabulous and aptly named aster Helen – your photo of ‘Stardust’ seems to shine out of my computer screen. We could really do with some decent rain here so most envious of your wet stuff. We had a light sprinkling on Friday night but nowhere near enough.

  4. Yvonne Ryan says:

    We have 3 large plastic compost containers with lids, 2 worm farms. In my last garden I used to fill up holes that were made when I moved a volcanic rock with my scraps UNTIL i saw a LARGE RAT run accross the path from it. I had been feeding RATS – EEK. So that’s when I bought my worm farm and even now with only me create great worm compost and lots of worm weeze!

  5. Pauline says:

    You have worked hard, digging compost isn’t the easiest job, but so satisfying when it’s done.

  6. Aga says:

    Hi Helen,
    This is what I like about gardening-the possibilities it gives you to create. I am also into a tiny replanting/reorganising project, and I know it won’t be the last one.
    I have still been waiting for my compost heap to turn into a proper soil. But I need to admit that I haven’t been as persistent as I should, oh well 😉

  7. Diana Studer says:

    do you repot your bulbs every year? That’s a task I’ll get to when we are in a smaller garden, and the pots are much more visible. I’m planning a staging area on the patio off the kitchen.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Diana
      I only repot my miniature bulbs, the ones that I might show. This is because they are hungry and use up all the food in the compost over a year. These arent pots outside in the garden which to be honest I’m not planning on doing this year due to time pressures etc.

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s