Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Opening the garden path into the border

Small garden border changes, be they made for practical or pretty reasons, can transform the sense of space and feel of an area especially in a small garden. Although I love to create hidden wildlife feeding spaces in my garden I love creating hidden/surprise garden views and plantings even more. This summer I’ve enjoyed making a few small changes.

Let’s take a close looker look below at the 6ft x 2ft path edge in question for today with its sprinkling of weeds, spent flower blooms, grass turf lifted from pond edge (in another small change) and a temporary resident (catmint seedling forgotten about). Note the two pronged garden tool – my new fav garden tool for getting weeds (and seedlings) from around the centre of plants.

Now, that’s better. We can see what we are working with but I’m worried about possibly forgetting I’ve allium bulbs planted there. Mmm… perhaps I could move the Betony (purple flowers loved by the bees) over to the left so the two plants grow together. That should work as the leaves of the allium should be gone before the betony starts coming into growth. We’ll see if this theory works next year ;-)

Ah yes... and I’ll move about the Bergenia plants so they act as an edge to keep the gravel out of the rest of the border. The plants are small here as I’ve been dividing them but they will become a great green wall all year long and give a bounty of spring flowers as they mature.

Okay, so two bags of North Sea pebbles were bought from the garden centre for this project. Although the original plan was to open up the path edge using them alone, it became clear that I needed a gravel base for this to work and be practical cost and weed wise. Let’s borrow some gravel from the other side of the path for now as time is short to get to the building supplier (since replaced).

Three rocks no longer in use after other small garden changes were available to complete the retaining gravel wall. Placing the pebbles took a few attempts and I suspect I will change them yet. As the pebbles get covered with plant growth I’ll move some into the pond as I choose the same smooth ones in there. Rocks and stone, in this case pebbles, never go as far as you think they will. The pile on the path below is the contents of one bag.

When working close-up in a border like this it’s easy to forget the other garden views of it. This is not the view I had in mind when I began this border change anyway. Lets’ step back a little bit.

Now, I don’t want to see the gravel and pebbles from the other side of this border. Ok, I’m pretty happy that the grasses (lifted from another border), the Bergenia and the Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve' Wallflower ' will grow considerably making a screen from the lawn side so job done from this view :-)

Looking at this longer view the eye is drawn over to the Bergenia and pebbles at the corner edge of my new wildlife pond. This is exactly why I wanted to repeat use them on the corner edge of this border.

For a good few years now, I have gardened by carrying colours and plantings over and through neighbouring borders. I have a small garden and this way everything is connected and my garden space feels bigger. Now the pebbles have connected my wildlife pond to the garden borders :-)

Looking towards the path edge below, pond side, you can see the row of higgledy paving slabs. This was the reason for this small border change but not the view I was considering either. However, my surprise here was that now the higgledy path line blends in to the gravel (a bit) and doesn’t become the end stop any more in long and short views. My eye now skips over the path and I’m very happy about that :-)

So… to the reason for this garden border change… nope I wasn’t trying to do an Alan Titchmarsh type revamp to pretty up my border… not at all. My path edge, border change was a completely practical one – the step up from my under my Pergola on to my higgledy path. I needed more space.

This path towards our Arbour was in the garden when we came here. When our daughters were young this path headed straight to a wooden Wendy house. These paving slabs are old and very heavy and we’ve never really considered moving them. I lifted the gravel on the left to lay turf to connect the pond with the lawn and that has helped soften the path.

Not seen in the image above is my rotary washing dryer (whirly) which is sited on the grass to the left of the path when in use. When I planted the ivy up my pergola post there was plenty of space to step up on to my straight path but over the years the ivy has grown wider and wider!

This summer I finally had enough of being squished in to the ivy as I stepped up/down with a basket full of washing. I moved the first slab over to the left and the other two off centre with a pattern of paving bricks in mind to give an accessible open space for that rushed run to collect the washing when the rain comes on. Now on dry days, I take my time stepping up enjoying a garden view that I never considered when altering my path.

Perhaps it was fortunate that changes in UK law regarding paving  requiring it to be permeable (porous) to prevent flooding made me unable to buy bricks to match the lawn edge ones beside my pond. I was forced to change my plan and although I considered a few options including a mosaic pattern of pebbles (uneven surface, no good for running with a basket of washing) this simple one has worked a treat for me :-)

Yep… before, that path just wasn’t inviting at all…

It is now :-)

Coincidentally, fellow blogger VP posted a blog yesterday morning on inspiration between the paving with some great images and chat. I have always loved this way of planting too and admired many gardens with it especially the Japanese ones with moss as VP mentions. Lisa over at Greenbow posted on path edges too where she is recycling old paving. If I had made this post brief as planned I would have been able to join them :-)

Translating any garden style can be fun to experiment with and the inspiration we can get from garden visits and blogs gives us a great stepping stone. Ha-ha… or should I say stepping paving slab for this post ;-)

Copyright: Original post published on http://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/ by blog author Shirley, August 12th 2014.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

A new gardenwatch era begins

This summer has gone swimmingly with so many days of warm sunshine which have kept me busy in the garden and away from the PC. I have to confess to have been enjoying this PC/blogging free time. Reconnecting with my garden has been great! I feel refreshed :-)

Many garden jobs that were on that were on lists are now ticked. The wildlife pond build that took a ridiculous time to commit to and complete has become the heart of my garden and far more rewarding than I ever expected it to be. I am so glad I didn’t abandon this build – I came so very close to filling it all in.

One of the best things about my new garden pond is, now that plants and wildlife are moving in, my OH will wander up to this area to see what he can see! He is very keen to see frogs there (as am I) and I do believe Mr Bushnell may have captured one small one jumping out of the water when Magpies were rooting about the blanket weed around the edge.

Today, we had a good deluge or two of rain (much needed here in my area of Scotland believe it or not) giving the ponds a good top up of fresh rainwater which I am delighted about. Unfortunately with the long period of sunshine we have had this summer my shallow wildlife pond has been heating up allowing blanket weed to get a hold.

Being truthful, I have enjoyed playing in the water, spinning the blanket weed around a garden cane and scooping free bits of blanket weed in a net leaving it on a rock on the pond edge. I've had fun watching all the tiny creatures making their way back into the water. It’s been quite a relaxing garden job – not a chore at all :-)

So, I guess we are now at the stage ready for a new era of gardenwatching where new pond visitors will be photographed, videos captured and ID’s searched for. Are you ready to join us?

The first garden visitors to be spotted enjoying our new pond were seen back at the end of April. Pond skaters began jumping across the surface of the water and water beetles scurried around the bottom surfacing briefly before diving once again.

In the video clip below you can see a pond skater appearing chilled in the sunshine enjoying hanging around where below it a water beetle scurries around looking very busy indeed. Ha-ha… almost like a scene out of Alice in Wonderland – in water ;-)

Pond wildlife video, 48 sec with background music, try HD quality.

So what has everybody been up to when I’ve been playing blogging truant? Have you been ticking off garden job lists or relaxing and playing with water like me? Perhaps you've been creative in your garden borders - I've had fun there too :-)

Copyright: Original post published on http://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/ by blog author Shirley, August 7th 2014. Grrr... I need to add this as blog scrapers are currently stealing my blog content and populating their own blogs. Please stop!