At the end of my last garden blog I left with the pond being completed but the remaining area between the pond and our boundary fence was still unworked. This blog will look at the work we undertook to get this as we wanted it. Unfortunately, while last spring/summer was filled with sunny days this year was the complete opposite. One of the most frustrating things was that we had so little to do to complete the job but continual rain meant the area was completely unworkable, and although we did get some days of dry weather they were so few and far between that the area didn’t get a chance to dry out.
The first thing that we tried to do was to dig over and rake the area to clear it off all the weeds and get it level for the next stage of landscaping. As we had already decided that we were going to store the outdoor tools like the roller and wheelbarrow next to the fence we used a lot of the rocks we removed from the soil to produce a hard standing area next to the fence. We also planted the area between the patio and the fence. These were all plants that had been transplanted into pots before we started working on this complete area.
We then moved onto the next stage which was constructing the compost heap and the bug hotel. You may remember from our previous work that we had slabs delivered on wooden pallets. Well, rather than throw them out we decided to recycle them into the ends and sides of our compost heap. We used extra wood from previous projects to reduce some of the gaps. As soon as we finished our wee friendly robin landed on it and inspected it.
Next – our bug hotel. Most people who know me will know that for the last few years I’ve been planning this bug hotel, and have been gathering some things to put into it. Again, this was built from wood we had in the garage. We’ve started filling it with well-rotted wood, partially rotten wood and freshly cut wood, dog hair, hay, pine cones, wood shavings and bamboo. We still have lots of space so filling it will continue to be a work in progress. We have deliberately stood it on lumps of wood as we intend filling the bottom area with leaves once they fall in the autumn. This should give a good home for one of the many hedgehogs that visit our garden.
We got to this stage and then it started to rain, and rain, and rain. So, this stopped all work in this area as walking on it was turning it into a quagmire. Eventually, several weeks later, it stopped raining for long enough to let the soil dry out sufficiently for us to work in the garden. We still had some slabs left over from our patio(s) so we decided to make a short path from them, but as we still wanted this to look like a wilder area in the garden we left spaces between them to allow grass to grow through. So, path building for us, and we were very pleased with the appearance – exactly what we wanted.
DISASTER. No sooner than we had completed the path it started raining again. We had visions of the sand underneath the path being washed away. After about a week of constant rain it finally stopped. So we left it a couple of days to dry out and then we walked on the path only to see torrents of water streaming from under it with every step we took. Obviously not dry enough to work round it then.
Finally we got some sun with the wind, and the area dried really quickly. We gingerly walked on the path to see if we would have to re-lay any of the slabs but no, they were all OK. Now we were able to landscape the area around the path.
Our intention had always been to put screening up to hide the worst of the storage area. After a lot of deliberation we decided on putting up a brushwood screen as it wouldn’t be a complete barrier. We also decided that we wouldn’t put the screening down to the soil level as we wanted to allow space for the hedgehogs to wander through the garden. We had already bought the screening but needed to fit it to a frame. More wood came out of the garage and we built the frame and attached the screening. We thought it would be really difficult to hammer the wood into the soil, but no, down they went quite easily. We put the frame uprights about 40 – 50 cms into the soil. To finalise this area we planted honeysuckles at each corner.
Now, we could finalise the landscaping and planting in this area. We planted grass seed on both sides of the path and in-between the path slabs. The area between the shed and the path, and the area between the path and the irises were planted with a Scottish wildflower seed mix. We hope this will give an area of traditional Scottish wildflowers for all the insects and birds to enjoy. We used old CDs on string to try to persuade the local woodpigeons not to eat the seed until it is established. Once established the CDs will be removed.
Another area of our garden that has always been a disappointment to us is the area next to our gate. There is an old tree stump there that we cannot dig out which makes it really difficult to mow. As I had some wildflower seed left over, I decided to sow more wildflowers in this area. We have laid a wooded border to delineate the end of the grass and the start of the wildflowers. This is purely to allow us to know where we can stop mowing the grass and let the wildflowers establish themselves.
Finally, we reseeded the grass area as it has suffered a lot of wear and tear due while we were carrying out the landscaping.
Have we managed to enjoy our garden? Well, not really. We get the occasional glimpses of sunshine but the cold, wet and windy theme has now continued into July – but who knows, next week could see the weather improve. I will live in hope.