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Getting There..(The new border part 2 and lots of new plants)


I’ve spent most of the weekend and today, digging lots of very solid clay out of the soggy new border.There’s no wonder the soil is soggy.It’s on a slight dip and the clay is so heavy, the water cant get away. But, I’m really pleased with how it’s going.It’s really hard work and, I now have over 20 bags of clay and rubble to take to the dump, but it’s starting to look much better with the addition of loads of gravel/grit , manure and topsoil.I’ve even started placing out some of the plants to see how my plans are taking shape but I shan’t put them in the soil yet as I’d rather leave it for a few weeks to allow the manure to rot a bit more.
This is how the borders look now and, I’ve curved the edges between the two beds and it ‘flows’ much better now(don’t you think ? ) as well as producing two more small planting opportunities….I’m always looking for those.

As you can see, I didn’t take much lawn out this time…I just wanted to curve the border between the curved beds.

This is what I was up against when I started on Friday. I just did 3 or 4 hours at a time as it was very tiring, digging (mainly using my heavy mattock to break into the clay and loosen up lots of the inevitable builders rubble) and also bagging it up and moving the bags took their toll.

These are what i hoped would be the ‘magic ingredients’ but, lots of it!

As I added the soil/manure and grit to a small area at a time,I think you can already see by the difference in colour, which part had been done(the back strip)

I also replanted some plants which had struggled to survive this winter by lifting them and adding some of the ‘magic ingredients’

It’s clear that the Deschampsia above, in the wet part of the garden is struggling, compared to one of exactly the same deschampsia planted in the drier border further along the same side of the garden.(both planted last year)

Some lovely Foxgloves to add some height and colour in the part shady rear of the bed.

One of the areas where I lost a few plants, was this very shady and extremely wet area (on an even bigger dip) down by the house.I had no idea when i dug and planted the garden last year just how wet it got in this area. We had only been here a few months and the area was covered in lawn(as was the whole garden)I knew it was wet and shady so planted accordingly but, obviously it was worse than I imagined. The Acorus were the only plants that thrived.This Heuchera struggled on and I’m surprised it survived at all but , I lifted it and put a lot of grit around it today.I shall keep an eye on it and may move it eventually

Whereas this one, further up the garden, thrived!!

I have bought a couple of ferns for this area and another Acorus. This is how I plan to plant it.

In this area, I replanted a couple of grasses and dug in some manure and soil to the rest of the soil, as well as plantinmg my two new Hellebores (Lividus)

I also planted this Prunus shrub which I dug the planting hole for, a while ago.
It breaks up the expanse of green lawn.

Julie and I had a lovely ride to RHS Hyde Hall on Saturday.It’s so close to me now. Although we didnt go in the gardens.We had a lovely cup of coffee (always a must) and some very naughty cakes.I had a look round the nursery/garden centre area whilst Julie mooched round the gift shop in the warm Yes, it’s been really cold and dull here recently.
I was armed with a big list of plants I needed, (well,wanted, I suppose but I convinced myself I needed them.)
The displays at Hyde hallnursery were smashing but, the prices were ridiculous. £10 for Heuchera??!!
But, didnt the Viola display look lovely?

Fortunately, I’d already purchased my ferns at much lower prices.

We then continued to another huge garden centre not far far from us.They have one of the best selection of plants I’ve ever seen.An independent called Morley’s in Great Wakering.
I found a few of the items on my list, including a couple of Lobelia Cardinalis(the red leaved ones in this pic), Queen Victoria which like moist conditions.

Oh, I nearly forgot, I also popped into another Garden centre, very close to Hyde hall where i picked up some other plants on my list including Filipendula (Meadowsweet) as kindly suggested as an option by Siris on my previous blog.

I made sure to put lotys and lots of grit in the planting holes for the Alliums when i planted them last autumn but, not many have come up….

I wanted to add this photo as Shirley(Tulip) asked me the other day if the bunny tail grasses that kindly sent me last year had seeded. I told her that quite a few had. What I forgot to mention was that a couple have come up in this pot which is overwintering one of my Dahlias in the greenhouse.Because they’ve been in the greehouse, they, quite incredibly, have flowers already.

Still a long way to go but progress has been made.
Wish me better luck with the newly enriched, thinned soil!
Happy Gardening


More blog posts by paulspatch

Previous post: HOORAY, I've Negotiated A New Border With The Guvnor! And, Bought Some Plants

Next post: Happy Easter Everyone. I'm Mad (as a Hatter) To Be Working All Weekend !!



Looks absolutely brilliant!! My garden is the same kind of clay and soil mix, was rediculous when digging the pond, almost three feet of it in places here, and then footings and part of an old garages brick wall :) your hard work is paying off well!!

21 Mar, 2016


Yes, we are gluttons for punishment Dan. .....perhaps we should just pave it all over ..ha ha!

21 Mar, 2016


I'm thinking of gravelling all of our garden over and having lots of plants, the lawn basically is a sponge here haha

21 Mar, 2016


Well, as long as you put in lots of stepping stones, it may be a more practical solution!

21 Mar, 2016


That's what keeps happening and gradually borders are getting wider..

21 Mar, 2016


Well, plants are more interesting than Grass.

21 Mar, 2016



21 Mar, 2016


Its looking much better already Paul. Now you have the basic shape you can possibly sneak another couple of inches off the lawn every year... The ferny area is promising well and you must feel very encouraged!
I groaned aloud when I saw the photo of your clay excavation - You could open a pottery...

22 Mar, 2016


Yes, Stera, you may remember my blog in 2011 (PaultheGardener) when I dug my last veg patch at the old house. I actually made a rough pot(Well, it was a cup with a handle actually) to show how pure the clay was. Well, this is at least twice as bad! Not to mention all sorts of bricks, pavers, plastic sacks, lumps of concrete, pallet straps etc that the builders kindly left for us !

22 Mar, 2016


Looking good Paul :-), I like your new layout of plants it's going to look great!
Know just what you mean about the things you find when digging we're on old allotment land and the things I've dug up, wheels off a bike,pill bottles, alcohol bottles a shoe , daren't dig any deeper with that one in case someone was attached to it!, glass from heaven knows how many greenhouses etc etc ,looks like everything was buried lol.

22 Mar, 2016


Yes...the builders certainly didn't take anything away from this site ...they just buried it in the ground.....just below the surface.
Which is why, so my neighbour's tell me, that so many people have had artificial grass and stone chips etc on this estate, rather than beds and borders. But, I'd rather battle against it all to havE some borders. Took 29 bags of clay soil and rubble to the council dump this morning and it all has to go through the house but, still, only got to do it all once!

22 Mar, 2016


It seems a lot of work at the moment but it will be worth it when you've improved the soil and the plants will appreciate it :)

22 Mar, 2016


When its all done you can have an Open Garden and show the rest of the road how its done....
Sorry I don't remember the cup, but it sounds as though bricks might be an easier option. Taking all that through the house sounds like a nightmare - and will you be bringing in topsoil the same way to replace it?

22 Mar, 2016


Great, Paul - it's looking good. I like the reshaping of the border. Clay soil is so difficult,misn't it? My grandmother had a garden on heavy clay when she lived near Dorking. When we were children, we used to make thumb pots with the garden soil, and leave them to bake in the sun. She had a lovely garden too, with beautiful roses. How she did it, I don't know - lots of hard work, that's for sure!

22 Mar, 2016


Yes, Hywel....I'm staying fairly optimistic about it....lets hope by the end of the summer and again next summer it will be bright and beautiful.
I had to bring all the topsoil, manure, and grit through the house in bags, Stera, this time and when I did the other borders last year....not to mention the hard core, sand ,cement and slabs when I laid the bases last late winter for the shed and greenhouse.
Yes, Melchi...roses are good for clay but, I'm not a great fan of them...which is a shame, really.I make life hard for myself. Although, I planted a rambling rose at the back of the garden last year. I should be used to heavy clay as my last garden had it and most of my customers (near my last garden) have it too, as well as my mother in law had it in Sussex too, but, this is heavier and holds more water than any I've ever seen.

23 Mar, 2016


Blimey Paul, those house builders have a lot to answer for with burying so much rubbish in the garden! The difference in the clay will begin to show, eventually, with all the grit and compost you're adding to it, just mind that back of yours.

Seeing those lovely curved borders make me think I have too many straight edges in our garden. Time to re-design methinks!

Thanks for showing those Bunny tail grasses, tough little plants despite their delicate appearance.

24 Mar, 2016


I love the, Shirley (the bunny tails) I am going to transplant a few to my new front borders to allow them to 'flop' over the metal edging on to the slate chips......just to soften it a bit!
Although I had big , flowing, curved borders at the old house (front garden) , I originall thought they wouldn't work so well in this smaller, very regular rectangular shaped garden but, then I didn't like the small straight edged borders so decided to go curvy... I'm happy with it, sitting here as I am now, looking up that side of the garden.(through the window as it's tipping down at the moment) .it's much more interesting.

24 Mar, 2016


I like the idea of the Bunny Tails in the front garden Paul, they do seem to thrive in just about any sun or shade position.

I shall put some old hose pipe in a curved pattern on the grass to see how much difference it would make to the look of the flower borders.

Not tomorrow though, rubbish weather forecast of high winds and heavy rain :o(

25 Mar, 2016


I think here , the worst weather is Sumday and Monday!

25 Mar, 2016


Gosh that does seem like a lot of hard work but its all coming together Paul, you'll soon be at the sitting back and relaxing stage admiring your handywork, if a gardener can actually ever reach that stage is another matter altogether, the good thing is you now know which are the wettest parts so can plant accordingly...

26 Mar, 2016


Yes, the worst done but, just hoping it's enough, Sue!

26 Mar, 2016

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