(What the heck happened to April?!)
In my last post, I mentioned we’d been doing some work on our garden. #12 on my 13 by 2013 is to clear out and maintain our front garden, which in January looked like this:
As you can see, there was plenty of room for improvement!
In February we had a friend who does garden design (the lovely Kaye of Grow From Here) come round for a consultation. For a small fee, she gave us a load of great ideas for our whole garden that wouldn’t cost the earth to implement. Some of these we are running with, some we’re developing in different directions.
For this front garden, she suggested a major clear out (de-clutter!). We’ve kept only 4 plants: the red rose on the left, the rosemary bush beside it (which you can nearly see), the bird of paradise buried in the back right corner (not visible) and a chilean guava I’d planted at the front (also not visible).
The plan: a herb garden with chilean guava (instead of box) hedge along the front (which lines a lawn path towards a gate) and the odd flowering plant (the rose, bird of paradise, some small cyclamen and a few dahlias – I’m also going to sneak in a potted star jasmine on the far right by a fence). Colours will be green with hints of red and pink (and the odd other bit – because we’re not too good at being colour matchy).
Progress: well, 4 and a bit months on, the clear out is nearly complete and I’ve started planting the guava bushes (and sneaked in some daffodil bulbs). Unfortunately I misread the height x width for the guavas and now need to replant them a bit closer together! I’ll also need a few more bushes…
The clear out has been significantly slowed by discovering just how stony and otherwise crappy the soil is. I’ve filled an old 10 litre paint bucket with the stones I have dug out – which has more than quadrupled the time needed to clear out the bed (my fork was hitting stones every time I tried to push it in). Consequently, it is not yet fully cleared. However, at least thanks to a stash of old carpet (now mouldy old carpet) the weeds are finding it hard to grow back – even the oxalis is dying :-). And the bits that have been cleared and not carpeted can be easily hoed in the meantime because there’s nothing in the way!
The discovery of the stoniness, while extremely frustrating from a speedy progress perspective, has at least shown me why previously some plants thrived and some really didn’t. As a result, the herb garden is going to be devoted to Mediterranean herbs – sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, savory and so forth – which can cope with poor stony soil. This makes narrowing down the range of herbs to plant much easier (I do tend to get over-excited when thinking about plants!)
I have also planted a couple of red-toned astelias at the back to help block the street view to the window (which is my workroom) – although it is going to be a wee while before they are big enough to do that, as the plants have been divided from an old pot bound astelia I had (the division process was not entirely straightforward). Nicely, the pot should be perfect for my star jasmine to go in when I get to that point.
I intend over the winter to complete ‘Operation Clear Out’ and get planted for Spring – while allowing for the simple fact that nothing in this garden is ever as straightforward as I think it ought to be! I still love it though…