15th Oct – 29th Oct
What have I been up to these last few weeks you may well ask ? He told us he would be updating us every week in his last post, I hear you say! Well, I’m sorry but with Winter fast approaching I have been so busy in the garden, 4 seperate projects all need completing post-haste, not to mention having to cut all the Hedera helix (English Ivy) that covers the entire house. Here is a few clues as to the tasks in hand…
For sometime now I have been struggling to find a solution to cover a mound of soil that is heavy clay and quite open. It sits behind a wild-flower garden and originally I tried planting a hedge out of Elaeagnus ebbingei but the winds were too severe for it to cope so eventually replanted elsewhere. Since then I have tried planting and covering however any media left on the surface of the weed membrane slowly slides down over time.
So now we try another alternative yet the task is never made easy.
Solution – To build a picture in your mind the soil is heavy clay although I have added sand and organic matter (OM) to help improve structure over time, we are several feet above sea level, we get extreme cross winds and there is little or no protection for this area. So the sensible option would be to find a plant fitting to these constraints, moorland like plants e.g. Heathers.
Whilst visiting a friend in Stamford, Lincolnshire recently I took the opportunity to visit a nursery not far from there that specialised in Heathers. I was met with a warm welcome and was amazed at how well organised the whole nursery was. The sea of plants out beyond the streams of polytunnels offered a tapestry of colour with all manner of flowering heathers. On discussion with Mandy the nursery owner I decided that heathers were the way forward and after carrying out a soil pH test determined the best heathers to choose with the assistance of Kingfisher Nursery.
I have decided to cover the entire area (Approx 30 sq m) and have acquired 300 plants, 3 different varieties, George Rendall, White Perfection and Mary Helen, (Kingfisher Nursery) yet with reflection although they are not all planted yet it looks like another 300 may be nearer to what i need. I was hoping to cover the area with a weed membrane like before however with 500+ holes in it to put the plants in, how effective will it really be.
I will update with some pictures as soon as it is finished.
So the wall garden needed some additional attention. Previously in February this year I had bulked up the back of the border by adding 25 Prunus laurocerasus and several other evergreen bushes. I have also added more Geraniums, Hellebores, Wallflowers, Aruncus and Astilbes this year and have now decided to include Heucheras into the spread.
These I also purchased from Kingfisher Heathers, varieties to include Sweet Tea, Amethyst Mist, Silver Scrolls, and Neptune
They are to be planted in here over the next few days so I will add some photos when done.
So one of the other pictures at the beginning looked like I had a mole problem. We have been using an auger to drill holes in there hundreds with a view to planting 2000 tulips and 1000 daffodils along one side of the garden. Yet again we have solid clay soil yet the auger makes life so much easier. We aim to plant 3 bulbs per hole so with 5000 bulbs to plant in total i guess we need about 1700 holes !! The tulip I am using is Carnival de Rio We have had an area in our gardening which has been primarily used for burning rubbish. The area is about a 10 metre square and as it hides nicely behind our miniature vinery sometimes gets neglected. With a garden this size there is always a lack of growing space for plants however we have now turned this area into a growing space by constructing a polytunnel.
The polytunnel is 16ft by 25 ft with an overall height just under 2.4m which allows enough head room to walk through comfortably. The ground beneath is in very poor condition however I intend to keep some of the area as hard standing and another area i have added manure, sand and organic matter dug in to the soil to create an open growing area for herbs, peaches and perennials for the garden.
I will update pictures of the polytunnel as and when I add plants but I am really excited about having this added protection to grow stock through the Winter months. I am able to run a hose from a free standing tap in the greenhouse to enable watering and if necessary I can also run electric via an extension lead to allow me to set up a halogen light should i need to work when the sun has disappeared.
So as you can see I have been kept busy over the last 2-3 weeks. I even found time to remove all of the plants from the borders of the pergola and position them in other areas and borders to allow turf to be layed, a pergola that is 75m long and 0.6m wide each side.
This we decided to do for 2 reasons. The pergola takes on average 3 hours a week to keep weeded and tidy so from April to October that is approximately 84 hours labour in 7 months. Calculate at cost compared to having it as turf and strimming once a week ! Realistically it could also be considered a garden design faux-pas having plants either side of a pergola. If we look at the gardens of Greece, Francee and Italy, gardens of grandeur you will struggle to find plants growing around the base of a pergola. The aim of a pergola is to create a framework to be adorned by climbing plants to be appreciated for their scent and foliage. If we are observing the plants at our feet we take away the purpose of the pergola and what it is there to achieve.
The most important plant growing on this pergola for the last ten years is the Laburnum watereri that sadly only flowers for about 6 weeks. It is truly beautiful and entwined with clematis, wisteria and passiflora throughout the rest of the spring, summer months is a spectacle that needs no additional gimmick to appreciate its whole.
So as you can see the weather has not slowed me down just yet but a noticeable drop in the temperature is now here and the frosty ground is just around the corner. Hope you have all done what you can to cover the plants that need added protection through the winter, I have 2 dwarf palms, a tree fern and some Gunnera manicata to take care of but i will have that done by the end of this week.
Hope you have enjoyed the blog. If you do have any questions or comments please do not be afraid of a bit of interaction,
Thanks for your time, happy gardening