Cottage Industry

I have been enjoyably industrious in the garden in the last couple of weeks and, as promised, quickly moved on to realigning the second of the main borders. It was hard to visualise the end result when the original project was conceived, and there was a certain risk it mightn’t ‘work’ when it was complete; thankfully, it now looks more than just acceptable and the benefits of moving the path to split the borders already give a different feel to the area and will make the borders more immersive in due course.

The usual view of the area from the back of the shed, shown at the end of every month in EOMV, is deceptive as it doesn’t look very different – but looking across the area from either side gives you a better idea of how it is laid out:

As this part the garden slopes gently in both directions, splitting the borders with the path has taken advantage of this and given rise to borders that are now level and more easily accessible; using recycled bricks to top up the previously recycled ones used in the original scheme gives the impression that they are already established features – likewise the paths, using the grubby paviers of the realigned path. Contents of the back borders are still unchanged whereas the front borders, which essentially had to be ‘moved’, have only the choicest of the original plants put back in them, and decisions on the content of all of them will be made later, and judiciously so.

I know not all gardeners create projects and attack them with the same gusto as I do, especially if bricklaying is involved, but please believe me that the time and effort involved in the above project was not great. To give another example, yesterday the bold border experiment was completed – you may not recall that, dissatisfied with the one bold border in particular, I removed all the plants towards the end of the year and potted them up instead, removing a course of bricks and the soil the wall retained…

… and as the year progressed the majority of plants thrived, enjoying their private facilities instead of the overcrowded bunkhouse they came from. The exercise successfully demonstrated that cramming borders will invariably be to the detriment of all concerned – individual plants, the border as a whole and the gardener’s satisfaction, hence my not rushing to put everything that came out of the main borders back where they came from.

In this bold border, the experiment had also proved that the issue wasn’t the location, and that subject to culling and sensible selections the border could be replaced in its original form. This necessitated moving the pots, removing the membrane beneath them and loosening the soil below, rebuilding the course of bricks removed last year, topping up the soil level (mostly with soil removed from levelling those other beds) and replanting some of the old residents. The whole process took no longer than three hours, none of it strenuous nor difficult – honest! Cross my heart and all that…

Today I returned to the plants that didn’t make the cut and have been quite thorough with them, culling some bog standard duplicates and never-performers as well as some woody salvias replaced by cuttings, leaving mostly poorly ones that need to rebuild their strength before being replanted, subject to making a good recovery. I also took the opportunity to remove aconitum from the two borders where it was still flaunting its poison tag, leaving large holes, opportunities, and a safer space in exchange. A shame in some ways, because the dark blue varieties are especially attractive, as indeed is the young foliage, but the deed is done and although I may have been overcautious I do at least feel more comfortable now all the aconitum has gone.

There will be more culling to follow, but that’s for another day!

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16 Responses to Cottage Industry

  1. johnvic8 says:

    There’s something about working with bricks and, in my case, stone. Once you complete just one little project and see how well it looks, well you just have to do another one…and then another. I tried building dry stack stone terraces, and would you believe I ended putting over 13 TONS of stone in my garden. What will be your next project? 🙂

  2. Jackie Knight says:

    That all looks wonderful, you must feel very good about the changes you have made, and although it is hard to get rid of a plant I applaud your decision to do so with duplicates and ‘never performers etc.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jackie. The never-performers have had second and maybe third chances and I would rather have something more dependable, whereas the duplicates were generally plants that have been split just to fill gaps. I certainly feel better for having the ‘clearout’ and hope to look over all my other borders in due course with a view to selective culling. Sadly, I still have a number of plants awaiting a second chance which may or may not be deserved!

  3. Solitaire says:

    Lot of work! Beautiful!🎐

  4. FlowerLady says:

    I just watched your June tour of your garden on you-tube. I absolutely love your garden and style. I now have subscribed to your channel and your blog. Have a lovely weekend ~ FlowerLady

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you Lorraine – I have only been doing the videos for 4 months but I think they help give a more rounded picture of the garden than still photographs, especially with it not being a simple rectangular space

  5. Chloris says:

    What a talent you have, both in conception and execution. I love brickwork too but I am sure I couldn’t do it myself unless I wanted a crinkle crankle wall. But I had fun this week oncovering a hidden overgrown brick path.

    • Cathy says:

      That’s a very gracious comment, coming from you Chloris, thank you. I had wanted to add some more curves to the garden but realised that there was no way I could do that without taking everything out and starting again (there were curves pre 2012 though), which is not going to happen, certainly in the forseeable future. I have every confidence in you building a brick wall yourself though, crinkle crankle or otherwise, if you set your mind to it – but how exciting to uncover a hidden part of your garden!! I have had the same dream more than once when I find a bit of of garden I haven’t worked on yet…sadly I don’t think that will ever happen BUT, and inspiration comes in varied ways, what you said has triggered an idea…thank you!

  6. Cathy says:

    It must be so rewarding when another project gets ticked off the list and the results are pleasing. 😃
    I would probably also have got rid of the Aconitum as it iscertainly one of the deadliest (if not THE deadliest) of the poisonous plants we probably all grow without realizing! I am surprised to find I will also already have to do some dividing and reorganizing in the autumn. Too hot for now! The bold border looks fantastic after its facelift and I bet the plants are happy to be back in the ground.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – although I suppose this was the sort of project that doesn’t actually go on a list! I was completely oblivious to its poisonous nature when I got my first aconitum but the others I bought knowingly, but now regret – heyho, we live and learn! Your plants must have settled in well if they are going to need dividing, so that’s a good sign!

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