Tag Archive | paths

Winter Gardening

As the last of the leaves flutter to the ground, the gardening year comes to an end. Very little will still flower after the first hard frost, and in my garden I just have a few solitary Schizostylis still going strong. It won’t be long before the camellias start opening their fat buds, and the witch hazels also, but there is a definite gap around the shortest day.

This is the start of the Big Winter Clear-up. Firstly the fallen leaves, which find their way into every nook and cranny. Then the Crocosmia foliage is to be pulled off before it gets too brown and mushy. Many of the perennials can still add structure and seed heads to the winter garden, so I always prioritise those that look at their worst, and leave the prettier ones ’til the spring.

Once the autumn vegetation is cleared, I can then see the structure of the garden more clearly, and it will give me a chance to check all the edges of the paths and borders. Many are edged with logs which have rotted, so will need renewing.

I am creating some new paths as well, along desire lines, which are the routes that one wants to take around a garden. They should be the basis of any good garden design, as there is little point in placing paths where no-one wants to walk.

 

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There was a definite need for a path across this flower bed, and we were taking short-cuts last winter without a path. I have finally completed a new, levelled path, connecting an existing path with the large lawn, and a route which heads down the garden.

The whole thing is made with an assortment of stones that I have found while digging the garden. There were a lot of flattish oval shaped stones, and they have been half-buried on end along the front to create an edge. Then the body of the path was laid in a crazy-paving style using all sorts of shapes of thin, flat stones. To finish off, it is topped with a dressing of gravel which will work its way into the cracks and help to prevent the stones shifting.

When I have tackled the border beyond the path, it might be nice to build a little retaining wall for that border, but I have had quite enough of working with stones for the time being!

One project finally finished

We have a new path! It starts under my rose arch…

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..and crosses the bare patch left by removal of a huge patch of Rosa rugosa.

 

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As the ground was already bare soil, we decided to level this section of path. Eventually we would like all our paths levelled – it would make walking much easier. In the spring we will sow grass seed to cover this all with lawn.

Then the path runs across the central meadow area, which has been cut down for winter, but will be long, swaying grasses next summer. The far end of the garden has been left to grow long to encourage a variety of wildlife, and we have strimmed a new path through this area too.

 

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So now there is a long path, and more importantly a view, from near one end of the garden to the other. Hopefully next spring it will all green up and look inviting. In the mean time, levelling the path left us with the problem of many barrowloads of soil…but luckily another of our problems was very uneven grass in the orchard. So one problem has helped solve another.

 

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Once again, it just needs seeding in the spring. I did manage to get some grass seed on the lower area of the bare patch, so that is greening up nicely, and looks so much better!

 

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The autumn colours continue to astound me. This is a small cotoneaster bush…

 

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The Beech trees in front of the house have nearly dropped all their leaves now, which have been laboriously swept up and stored to turn into leaf mould. Spring here may have been all yellow and green with all the daffodils, but autumn is definitely orange and crunchy!

 

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Putting in the paths

The only paths we have inherited in our acre and a quarter garden are the straight one that runs along the bottom edge through the wood, and a curved one through the large sloping border behind the house.

 

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The curved path starts on the patio, curves up a set of steps through the main flowerbed on the bank behind the house, and then curves back down these steps pictured above to the lawn at the front of the garden. You lose all the height you gain by going up the steps, and as there is a continuous row of shrubs on the far side of the path, you cannot access the upper lawn areas and the orchard.

 

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So we have started a little stone path that zigzags off the top of the path onto the lawn by the orchard. We are using the stones we have dug up around the garden, but it is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle fitting them into a stepped path. I think it will look lovely and rustic when it is finished, and the first of many paths to come.

One of the first things I did in the winter was to cut down a very scraggy shrubby honeysuckle just beyond the path, and lo and behold there is a view right to the far end of the garden. So finally we have now dug out the roots, so that we can have another path leading through the shrubbery and beyond.You can see the two major stumps awaiting carrying to the bonfire.

 

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I have also been out and wrestled with our new mower, and started to define the grassy paths through the ‘meadow’ that the far end of the garden will become. It is far too large an area to mow all of it, and it will be interesting to have areas of long grass.

 

 

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I have started by mowing the routes that we already walk, and will gradually add in some more mown strips to create a pleasing network of gently sloping paths by which one can explore the whole garden.

 

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I can also start to plant shrubs and trees in the curved corners of the paths, to help define the routes. It is great to see these ideas starting to show on the ground, even if we have a lot of hard work to do before they become reality.

This afternoon I tackled the ‘rockery’, a stony bank above the wall bordering the drive. I cleared away some of the weeds and ivy, and planted six aubrieta along the front edge to trail down the wall. Well, at least I hope they will, as it is a north facing wall, so not as sunny as is ideal.

 

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The front lawn continues to be a delight, covered as it is with fritillaries, primroses, daffodils, anemones, and grape hyacinths. At least one area of the garden is already a riot of colour!

 

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