There is a particular significance to this photograph. It heralds a new approach to my garden and how I spend time in it – well I hope so. I have never had anywhere to sit in the garden, aside from a bench on the patio by the back-door. I often sit on the bottom step of the steps at the top of the garden as I like being surrounded by the plant but I have never had a proper seat. The main reason is because there hasn’t been anywhere to put one. However, when we put the workshop in last summer it seemed to me that the area adjacent was crying out for a seat but the levels were all higgeldy piggeldy. Over the last few weeks my eldest has done some levelling, put in a couple of steps and, just so we can have a bench, has moved the stone wall back.
One of my goals for my week off work was to finish off this area. As you can see I have cleared the slope of plants aside from one Thalictrum which I have decided to leave in situ. The soil was improved with composted wood chip from the path above and it was all dug over and raked.
Over the last few months I have been collecting plants for the slope from various garden and nursery visits. I want to the theme to be good foliage along the hardy exotic theme. The border is quite shady at the end furthest from the workshop and relatively sunny the other end so quite a spectrum and to be honest it isn’t that big a space. I thought a lot about what would go where so hopefully I won’t be moving everything around in a year’ time – which will make a nice change. The plants included are:
Fatsia japonica Spiders Web
Polystichum setiflerum ‘Plumosum-Bevis’
Osmanthus Het- Goshiki
Tetrapanax papyrifera rex
There is a largeish gap in the middle of the border and I want to add some hardy gingers here with lots of lush foliage so when you sit on the bench it feel enclosed. I also need something very leafy to go on the lower part of the slope by the shed. I was thinking a fern, there is already one which has self-seeded into the ground at the base of the slope and is quite large so another one might tie it together – any excuse for another fern.
I still need to gravel the whole area but as I am only just getting over the cold/flu I had a week ago I decided that lugging a tonne of gravel up the garden might not be my best idea and it can wait for a few weeks until I have some help to hand and more energy.
I have already spent some relaxing time sitting on the bench and I love the atmosphere around it. Overhead are branches of the Prunus which is currently heaving with blossom and buzzing with bees. I can see that I will be able to sit and read here or just sit and relax and this will be good for me as I need to slow down and enjoy looking more.
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. To me it seems that you are just putting yourself under pressure to achieve something which will undoubtedly not be achieved and you will feel like you have failed! But that is just my view. Instead I like to have aspirations and plans which I hope to achieve but with the full expectation that life may throw a curve ball and mean they are put on the back burner. Indeed when I read back through my garden journal from this time last year I was going to create a fern border up the top of the garden but this space was taken over by a wood store for my son and then there was the unexpected decision to give up some of the garden for his workshop which put all the other plans on hold and changed the feel and focus of then garden, albeit for the better.
This year I have a couple of ideas I am hoping to implement. First up is sorting out the corner of the patio. As you can see from the top photo it floods when we have heavy rain. I have had a pond here but the someone somewhere must have cleared some drainage and it dried out. It is now dry most of the year but I can’t risk planting anything here that isn’t a marginal plant. The other problem is that all the dust and detritus from the patio finds it way here and it is a challenge to make it tidy. I also feel that some height is needed here. So the plan is to put in some bricks or concrete blocks in which I can rest a wood plank platform. My eldest and I have worked it out so that any flood water could drain away through a gap below the planks. I then fancy a nice acer in a large pot here.
Then there is the Big Border to come up with an approach for. I feel an inclination to lush exotic looking foliage coupled with some more traditional perennials but it hasn’t crystallised in my mind yet. The far end of the border is partially shady so I will be planting some of the woodland perennials I love here. This is an area that I think will cause much pondering over the coming months.
The other major project we will definitely have to do is to finish the landscaping around the workshop. Guttering and a water butt need to be put in and the wood store which is where the fern border was going to be needs to be relocated to its final position. We want to create a small seating area by the workshop (in the area above) – it’s one of the few flattish areas. I will need to rejig some of the plants and bring in a load of gravel. There should be enough room for a bench.
The original woodland border needs some focus and better planting. This was on the list for last year but was a victim of the Big Border/workshop project. I want to add more shrubs along the fence and rejig the smaller perennials more to the front of the border. Originally when the border was created I intended there would be an informal path through the border but with developments last year I no longer think another path is a good idea. This means the focus of the border has changed but I think what I have in mind will be much better than the original plan.
Then there is the grass path dilemma. This is what was left of the back lawn. It has a camber which means I find cutting it with the mower exhausting and a strimmer justo doesn’t do the job well enough. Then there is the badger and it’s penchant for digging holes in it looking for grubs. Why I don’t know since there is a vast area of grass next door which is neglected and which the badger has to cross to get to my garden! I am toying with putting in a gravel path instead but there is a small voice saying the grass is a nice pause in the chaos of the garden. I suspect that I will still be pondering this in a year’s time.
Finally two projects I did plan and complete last year. The small conifer bed in front of the workshop is looking fresh and there are bulbs beginning to push through the soil. The woodland slope is my favourite area at the moment. I have planted it with ferns and epimediums and again there are snowdrops and special narcissus in here. I am hoping it will look wonderful in a month or so.
So lots planned and filling my mind in the early hours of the morning but at least there will be things to report back on here!