The next phase

Yesterday we made a start on the next phase of the garden remodelling. Much of the bank at the far end of the garden was only given a cursory makeover last year, with the aim of doing more with it this year. As a result, the new corner (made from turf and other material removed when we took the lawn up) has remained brown, dusty and barren. I did plant some bulbs into it, but most of them seem to have rotted. The rest of the bank, which we uncovered from the layers of tree branches, has had a more mixed time of it. Some transplanted turf survived; most didn’t. Shrubs have tended to struggle, though the euonymus and choisya have done pretty well, and the rose and mahonia we found under the debris have flourished.

So, a decision was made to move some of the soil from the main bank onto the new corner. Partly this was to help improve the new corner, and partly it’s about reshaping the bank into a gentler slope and moving soil away from the fence with next door before it rots and/or collapses completely. I also cracked open the compost bin, with some trepidation, to see if it contained anything usable. To my relief, it seems that most of the bottom half of the bin is reasonably loamy and useful, so some of that went on the ground too. Then we covered all the remodelled area with some of the leftover membrane from when we made the gravel path last year, mainly to prevent it from become Kitty Litter Central while we decide what to plant in it. Suggestions for plants which cope well in partial shade, dry conditions and poor soil will be gratefully received.

Elsewhere, we found that the cherry laurel is striking back. Last autumn I posted about the purple fruit from this tree, and how we had to pick them out of the gravel. Well, we were less bothered then about picking them out of the flower bed and yesterday it became clear that we had a fine crop of seedlings. As many as possible have been evicted, but obviously we need to be on our guard this year – I think long-handled loppers before it has chance to produce fruit may be the answer.

Mum’s been growing all sorts of things from seed, so all being well there should be tomatoes and lots of colourful annuals in the next couple of months. We are going to see her next Saturday and will go to the nearest garden centre to start tracking down plants for the bank. We have several crocuses making an appearance, and at the moment just one solitary narcissus, and the flowering quince is still doing well. The skimmias are still covered in buds and will probably flower in the next few weeks. Losses to the cold weather currently stand at: confirmed – one potentilla; probable but still uncertain – the gaura, the perennial coreopsis, the patio rose and something in a pot that I can’t remember the name of. Never mind – these things happen.

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