The first thing I did once we had moved all the furniture and boxes into the house was look at what plants I had brought with me. I picked a few that I liked and went shopping for more plants of the same type. I bought a Geum with orange flowers, three Lupins, three Hollyhocks (in Black, white, and crimson colours), two Aquilegias (Columbines), one Dicentra Bleeding Heart, and some Stipa grasses for my path border.. I also bought three 25 litre bags of top soil for the raised bed.This was neatly stacked around our Rose bench waiting to be used.
This was the raised bed as we moved in. It has some decking on the right hand side keeping the soil off the paved area. It runs up to the neighbours fence and is maybe thirty feet long by three feet wide. It was home to some leggy plants, and some poorly specimens. The soil was compacted, covered by fabric weed guard, and was sparsely populated by any insects when i was clearing it. Even the Chocolate Mint in the bottom left hand corner found it hard to escape from its corner.
The most enormous thing in the garden after the decking play area was this big Lavender Bush. It was around fifteen years old but very woody. Lavenders need regular cutting back to prevent woodiness, and replacing every few years. They are bought very cheaply from nurseries too. Behind it was the yellow leaved, and dark leaved Choisya; Mexican Orange Blossom. These two plants survived the revamp. They are so lovely to smell the flowers and the leaves are ever green, so they give the garden colour and structure all year around. They are good building blocks to build a garden around.
The plants that were left once the overgrown Lavender, and Thyme were removed included four Pieris's, a Hollyhock that was almost totally eaten to the ground by slugs/snails, some Grape Muscari, a Snail destroyed Foxglove?, the two Mexican Orange Blossoms, and a perfectly healthy looking Hebe. The healthy ones have been left in to bulk up my planting.
I used the fork to break up the soil to a depth of a foot and turned the soil up. I broke up all the large clods of earth that I found into a nice crumbly mix. Good soil looks like Chocolate Brownie mix and feels as good in your hand.
I had to reinvigorate the soil which I think was a mixture of soil and builders sand. It was solidly clumped together with no worms in it, no beetles, and hardly any weeds. It must have been devoid of any nutrients. The top soil was mixed in when I started digging the plants in.
Before I planted these I went with Cat to her parents. The hours break took my mind off the planting. I wanted to rearrange the pots on top of the soil to get the best looking arrangement for the planting. I came back and arranged them how I liked them. Then three hours of kneeling on either side of the raised bed digging small holes for the plants. I bought a bag of bark chippings as the weather had been extremely hot and the soil was bone dry in the garden.
The finished raised bed at the end of the day. I was too shattered to put the bark chippings on. I thought I would see how the soil did.
There has been four of the hottest days of the year so far with daytime temps up to 29 degrees centigrade. The bark chippings have now been put on top of the raised beds soil. They are quite ornamental highlighting the plants above. They keep the moisture in which is key to a low watering garden, and they suppress weed. They are organic in that they can be dug into the soil over future years.
The majority of the plants I bought were all Perennials. They should flower for us for many years, even though some of them are quite small. I bought three keys plants to attract the Butterflies and Bee's. The first is the Ceanothus or Californian Lilac. It blue flowers smell of dripping Honey and attract Bee's for miles.
The second one was a Buddleja Black Knight which attracts Hoverflys, Butterflies, and Bee's. They are extremely nectar rich.
The third plant was an old favourite called Nepeta Six Hills Giant or Cat Nip. Its guarantied to make the local moggys go mad (Cat Nip is used in Cat toys and treats) and was like Bee central at Trilby street with its scented Leaves and purple flowers. I just think the name Six Hills Giant is fabulous too.
This was taken two days after the revamp. The Bark chippings are down and the Roses lined up to stop me falling off the path which is a foot higher than the patio slabs! The Pots and Roses make you walk around them.
The Strawberry/Pea bed is on the top left hand corner next to the bird feeding station. The insects are flying into the garden now. I have seen hundreds of baby spiders on a web, one yellow bodied spider on the Strawberries,more Midges, and a Hoverfly in the raised bed. The influx of new plants has enriched the gardens mini environment.
The birds have started to arrive into the garden en Masse for the food, and the water. I have watched Starlings bathing in the bird bath as I wrote this.
Its the first day of the RHS Chelsea flower show today too..