Garden – November – 2

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Willow Garden 14th November 2022

Willow Garden 01st November 2022Willow Garden 14th November 2022

achy and breaky and creaky and freaky’
Wednesday 09th to Monday 14th November 2022

Suze and l have been busy in the Willow garden with Stage Two since last Wednesday when the rains finally stopped, and we have enjoyed drier and, at times, sunnier weather. Yesterday was our last day for the time being until maybe next week when we will begin and end Stage Three of the projects for the garden.

Although we will have Stage Four in the middle all going well, or rather all going well weather wise. I am pleased however that today is a take it easy day because l know we have both felt shattered and achy and breaky and creaky and freaky for the last few days with tiredness and not knowing what day it was!

Before the arrival of the allotment – Plot 17 in September, the garden had been home to four operations – busy garden, vegetable and flower growing, composting and worm farming. However, now Willow will only have two of the four projects: a low-maintenance garden and the worm farms. Plot 17 has the other two passions based there – composting and vegetable growing.

But because Willow DID have a lot going on inside the courtyard, a lot of work had to be done to accomplish the sharp divides. Suze and l knew that would take many dedicated and hyperfocused hours.

The rains at the start of November hampered us considerably and slowed everything down significantly. So we were grateful to see the break arrive on the 9th.

Each of the four components, or seven if you include my commitments with Gazen Salts and the Earthly Comforts blog and the new garden and composting service Suze and l are setting up which l shall write about in due course, are all time-consuming activities. However, admittedly, Willow garden will become much less of a time burden, and more of a relaxing chill zone once sorted out and tidied up.

But not unlike life, we all have these obstacles that we must find time for, and it all comes down to making the most of our time available and not wasting any of it. Prioritising, identification, passion and organisation are keen elements that you need. With those, you can achieve whatever you set your heart to.

Therefore, the first stage of the many steps was to strip down, cut and trim back, tidy and shuffle up, sort out, and clear off everything that wasn’t needed in the garden.

The next project will be the worm farms. Two of the three raised farms are now awaiting to be built, and l am still awaiting the delivery of the third and largest farm which will be here today. Once everything is present, then Stage Four will commence.

GalleriesWednesday 09th to Monday 14th November 2022
Wednesday 09th

Suze started the trim on the right-hand side of the garden in the small ornamental bed that had become desperately overgrown in the last twelve months since the last cut back. 

Whilst many pot plants also had to be tackled, one of the first challenges was cutting back this bed.

My tasks for the period were to dig large plants out, mix up new soil mixtures with vermicast, compost and old soils from pots, and make them fresh again, sieved and debris free. Once done, l could provide Suze with newly laid pots and mulch the ornamental beds with a good 5″ depth of soil mulch for the winter.

The winter rains will soak these mulches into the beds and enrich the earth with microbes and with much-needed nutrients. In turn once we start the final stage to the garden from next week and the planting up of the later seasons flowers and bulbs it will also enable us to dig into a much softer soil layer.

Suze’s trim looks aggressive, but this bed is filled with very hard and speed growth shrubs that will come back twice as lush next spring onwards. The soils in the beds very much needed a complete reboot and the only way to get to them was to cut back.

Thursday 10th

Thursday was the first proper long day in the garden. We spent eight hours digging up, cutting back, shifting pots around, emptying many others, and identifying which plants could leave the garden and transfer down to Plot 17.

The garden started to behave a bit like the Rubik’s Cube, considering how many times we shifted from a to b to c and back again.

We needed to clear the middle patio of clutter so we could move the climbing plants to the trellis. It didn’t take long before they naturally attached themselves to the frames.

The back patio with the worm farms was used as our storage area; by doing this, we could slowly reclaim the middle and the front patio areas. 

Even now, all Stage Two did was allow us to break the main blockage, we still have quite a bit of journeying to go before everything is done, but only with Stage Four and once the worm farms are resited into their newer farms, can we finally see Willow garden finished.

Friday 11th

Friday was once more another eight-hour day. This time it involved more intricate pot work, as in digging large pot-bound plants out from pot a and moving to the larger pots b, c and so on. I started to soil mulch the beds with their first 3″ layers, and that involved mixing around a quarter ton of assorted soils and composts.

The other task was to travel some of the content leaving the garden to the allotment and continuing to layout the middle patio. Making sure the right colours and textures are present to climb the trellis for next year. This task also involves ‘stepping’ the plants which is taking their heights into consideration and their foliage coverings.

Slowly the empty pots started to accumulate. One of my other tasks was to hand fork over the gravel path and relay and water spray and rake it. this also aids the drainage and the rains of today will clean off the mud as well.

Saturday 12th

Once more, another long day performing the same tasks as the previous day. A case of mixing up soils and making old grounds new, digging up pots and resiting plants and shrubs into the garden beds and identifying plants that needed to be transferred to the allotment and thinning out where we could.

The task was to make Willow a much lower maintenance garden considering all the other projects we have between us that take more time.

We want Willow also to be a much more vibrantly colourful garden that is appealing and attractive to wildlife and has a relaxed atmosphere and is not cluttered.

Sunday 13th

By Sunday, our extended hours were starting to pay off, and we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We could finally move the bench to the front patio, a temporary position until its final location is achieved next week and store the surplus pots. We needed somewhere to keep these as we will likely use 75% of them again.

We also managed to move the marble table out, reposition the buddleia, and make room for taller shrubs like the newly woven willow.

The middle patio is now 95% complete, which is a bonus.

Monday 14th

Early yesterday morning was foggy and damp. We both knew that the forecasts got the weather right for Monday. Our first start to the day was a quick run to the allotment, and on the return leg, another quickie run to the local rubbish tip.

Suze’s car Belinda is becoming more acquainted with allotment and municipal tip runs and is coping very well. She is not Betsy [Suze’s previous four by four] but give her her dues. She does well.
We still have plenty to take down to the allotment the next time we go, which is one day later this week when the rains have stopped again.

Monday saw both Suze and l relieved we had broken the back to Willow’s heavier workload and sighed a breath of relief as it meant we could take it easy for a couple of days before the next project made demands from us.

As l said above, work is still to be done before the garden is complete, but we have made significant headway. As you can see from the photographs below, Willow is now starting to look a lot tidier and way more manageable for two people who have now got their work cut out for them.

One of our last significant tasks was to resite an older established hydrangea shrub on the side of the hedges, but we needed to move it across to where the small agapanthus was in front of the Yorkshire Rose. That was quite a dig, as l remember planting it in the old spot after l noticed it had become seriously pot-bound when l first moved here in June 2020.

However, for the time being, everything is done. We even managed to pot up 12 garlic plants ready for next year.

Thanks for Reading – See you next time.
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