Monday, 16 January 2017

Now, the fun part ... a new bed

As with any of our gardens, we like to view see it looking well. For me, it's been a journey of garden recovery since the storms and gales over the Winter, getting around to rebuild or repair projects as time allows, and there is still more to do. This in turn means that any of the additional plans I had for the garden are delayed with my calendar pretty full for the coming months at least, and if I'm honest, some of the projects will have to be deferred until the Autumn time. I am continuing with seasonal vegetable planting and production gardening, because if you miss the window on these, that's that for another year. 
So, when I had some unexpected time last weekend, it was a great opportunity and set to work at on of these projects, namely the creation of a new bed on the right-hand side of the garden as you look at it from the front. This area use to be in grass and I had sprayed it in the Autumn to kill off the existing vegetation, and since then it has been a bit of a no-mans land looking very unsightly indeed.
First steps were of course digging and getting the soil as right as possible. I have learned from putting in previous beds that there is about 4-6 inches of good topsoil. Go any deeper and you begin to hit substandard material that just won't sustain good health plant growth. So with this in mind, I dug through the bed, removing any perennial weeds, and then added a fine mix of well rotted manure, home-made compost and shop-bought compost. I enriched the soil with fish, blood & bone meal, and again dug over the bed, threaded over it and left it ready for planting. 

Whew, the hardest work done, taking about half a day to do.
There were some errands to run and this gave me a nice break and time to contemplate the next steps. Now in planning any bed in the garden, I always like to think beyond just planting random colour, which of course can look well, but with a little more thought, you can achieve even greater sense of satisfaction. For this bed, I had some russet rocks I had been intending to use. Many moons ago I also had consulted with OH, and we were of the mind to ensure lavender plants were added in to the garden. So putting these aspects together, and blending other colours to fit around this, I decide the theme of the bed would be primarily blue to mauves, with the russet rocks providing the contrast that you mostly see yellow or orange flowering plants providing. 

Easy!

I gathered the plants, which apart from the recently purchased lavenders (Lavandula) , comprised of a rag-tag group which had been knocking around waiting for the opportunity to shine. I pulled the rocks together too, again they were stored to one side as I knew I'd put them to good use.


And now the fun part. Isn't this half the reason gardeners like to do what they do. To create and allow the right side of the brain some freedom to imagine. The good thing about having reasonable plant knowledge, is that I can plan a bed like this with the plants, moving them about, envisioning what they'll look like, with relative easy. Where I'm not sure of something, I pull out the books and check. Plants I am using include Aquilegia, Rosmarinus, Agapanthus, Erysimum, Hosta, hardy fuchsia and, I have a lovely sized Dierama that will fit in here nicely. The bed already has a large Miscanthus grass and a variegated Weigela, both of which were planted two years ago. The Aquilegia (sometimes called grannies bonnet) are self seeded into a purple Japanese maple's container. The Acer is still alive but has been affected by die-back over the past two years, so if it survives it's a bonus.



Once I was happy about the placement of the plants and the rocks, there was nothing else to do but plant and water them in well. You can see with two plants I did something slightly different. Firstly with the Dierama, I planted it in a raised soil area, using the rocks. The reason for this is that this particular plant likes very well drained soil and I would fear for its survival just planting it into the raised bed. 
The second slightly difference is that I didn't plant the variegated Vinca into the soil. I know from previous gardening experience that it will run all over the place, choking out some of the other plants. 

Instead, I've put it into this nice pot, which is decorative and fits nicely with the other colours in the bed (this pot was a lovely present from some night class gardening students a few years back - again, thank you!). To control the Vinca, I will regularly prune it back, particularly those lovely stems reaching over the side of the pot.
So, this is the finished product, for now. I have to say I'm pleased with how it turned out and how fresh the area looks now. Over the coming weeks, I will be using bark mulch to which puts a nice dressing over the bed and to assist with suppressing weeds. I will also use some nice coloured cream-to-brown gravel around the lavender plants and at the base of the rocks, which will finish of the whole look very nicely.

Happy gardening.