Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Being creative and artistic while being Practical

Last weekend we had good weather both days and a child-free weekend so we got lots of work done in the garden. It was a good thing since a couple of days later my back gave up and I was signed off work for a week. On Saturday I carried on with the veg garden: cutting back herbaceous plants; tidying the beds; lifting leaves and forking over the soil. The down-side to gravel paths is lifting the leaves after autumn. I find raking the paths loses more stones than leaves. It's easier to hand lift them, hard work but I don't have to top up the gravel so often.

The top beds before tidying
It's satisfying to tidy the beds and see how well plants have grown over the past year, how well they are doing (or not) and to plan if any need moved to create better spacing or if new plants need added to replace dead ones. This is when self-sown seedlings are discovered and left in situ if suitable, lifted and potted or weeded out. There are certain plant seedlings I leave and others definitely have to be removed. Foxgloves, Aquilegias and Myosotis get left to soften the spaces between other plants in the beds. Invasive pests such as Ladies' Mantle (alchemilla) and Cowslips are weeded out unless I use them for something else. I got the seating area and both top beds tidied and dug over, its a very satisfying job.

Looking down the veg garden before
This area still gets called the fruit and veg garden even though there has been no veg sown and grown there since 2011 when I decided to stop growing veg. I didn't have the time due to working full time, they weren't producing enough and the kids weren't into veg. So I gradually planted up the four beds with perennials that caught my eye to give colour and interest all year round. The top easterly bed is finished, filled with scented Phlox, bright Geraniums and Echinops for winter interest seed heads. The top westerly bed is mostly planted, with a few gaps awaiting filling when I acquire some new plants that will suit. This bed is largely Paeonias and Iris with some grasses, eye catching Cirsiums and edged with strawberry plants. The bottom two beds are partially planted with shade lovers as they are lower down the slope and under one of the huge beech trees on the edge of the woods. There are also some plants heeled in here until their final home is ready.

David has come to think maybe gardening isn't for him,
he prefers being the gopher
The fruit part of the garden is still going strong with Redcurrents and Rasps on wires and lots of black and white currents, Gooseberries and Blueberries (my favourite). There are also Apple, Pear, Cherry and Medlar trees in the orchard.

On Sunday we decided to have a clearing, landscaping and construction day at the top end of the garden. As David had dumped some good garden soil on the rest of the prairie bed during the week I got this levelled out and laid out the plants I'd collected together for the Prairie bed. As the bed will be viewed from two sides its important to get the plants in the right place. I wanted tall plants at the back but also through the centre of the bed to eventually form a screen for the workshop. Once I was happy with the layout I got on with planting them. There are a few gaps along the path edge for the plants I have growing on from seed in the greenhouse. Once big enough they will be planted out.

Placing plants before planting
Before starting the workshop
 and work area

I then went and joined David to do a bit more clearing at the back of the workshop. This has gone from a Steptoe's yard type place to a huge work area where we can store useful stuff, work on big projects and it will be the entrance to the polytunnel. We want it to be functional, but also to look good too. We have some chunky bits of stone and a lot of slate from the old house to store, which we will eventually use in the garden. The slates had been stacked on wooden pallets for years, but they were now rotten and had given way. So we came up with a practical and decorative way to store the two materials. By stacking up the large stones and making mini walls, three high and two or three deep, four feet apart, we created an area to stack the slate. The stones won't give way so the slate will stay neatly stacked until required and it looks pretty cool too. This took most of the afternoon, then the rain came on and we persevered and finished the job, soaked but really pleased with our days work.

Starting to clear out the mess
last summer
Today, lots of space for storage
and working
Bracken thinks the bonfire is the place to sit
The stone and slate store

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