Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Creating Paths and Prairie beds

The weather forecast was not good for the weekend when I checked on Friday, but here in Scotland and especially here on our hill, the forecast can be entirely different to what's happening outside our window. Saturday turned out to be dry - windy, yes but dry. Too windy for garden spring cleaning (lifting leaves to have them blow back two minutes later is very disheartening) so we decided a warm digging job was the order of the day and tackled the entrance to the workshop and what will be the red and purple prairie garden. This area is a continuation of the Natives Office garden area separated from it by a bamboo screen. Despite having being built for nine years the workshop has never had a proper step or path into it, just a higgledy-piggley row of slabs.

The start of the day, after lifting half a dozen slabs pretending to be a path to the door

Whilst waiting for my minions (David and the boys) to finish cleaning out the chickens and ducks before we started digging in the morning I cut back another large clematis that was taking over the woodland fence. Clematis alpina 'Willy' was not only rampaging along the fence in either direction but into the greenhouse between the panes of glass! Not any more it's not.

Once the boys were ready the first job was to install a nice big block of stone from the old house as the doorstep. It's so chunky a small bed of sand was sufficient to bed it in, as its not going to go anywhere. The soil here is rock hard, awful sub-clay, and has never been disturbed, so we have a solid foundation for a bed of sand and some 2'x3' (60cm x 90cm) slabs. In order to soften the look of the workshop we decided to take the path parallel to the building and curve it around using the original brick base of the old byre that was there before. This means there will be a large border in front of the workshop, full of colour and softening the whole area.

The end of the day. The rain's on but we have a slab path to the workshop and a
 flower bed nearly ready for planting

Two slabs, then a step down to a third slab were sufficient to take the path down to one of the huge byre foundation stones we had uncovered. This, along with the original brick floor of the demolished byre will form the path to the gravel in front of the house. Once the path was laid we dug over the awful soil in front and top dressed it with some topsoil. This will give the new plants a better start. Unfortunately we ran out of time and the rain came on, so next time we're out in the garden we will need another dozen or so barrows of good soil, then we can plant up the prairie bed.

Looking towards the house

The planting plan for this bed will include tall grasses, purple and red flowering perennials, coming down to shorter ones near the edges: plants that have interesting seed heads and move in the wind. They should form large clumps of plants, creating a tapestry of colour with interest all year round (that  sounds good doesn't it). Plants on the plan include Echinaceas, Astrantias, Verbenas, Molinias, Geraniums and Scabiosa. There will be plenty of photos to come in the coming year or so, once they are planted, established and are all flowering.

Molinia
Echinops













Echinacea







Scabiosa

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