Ground work

Winter is the season dominated by bare soil: the whole gardening cycle begins with the care and preparation of the earth during winter  ~ Monty Don

After weeks of rain in most of January and intermittent freezing temperatures since, there has not be a great deal of time to get out and do the necessary ground work to the Japanesque garden before the rush of Spring.

And literally it is ground work that has occupied much of what gardening time there’s been. Back in September I scrubbed up the weed-raddled raised lawn – the clods upturned and edged the top boundary hedge (will seed with yellow rattle to inhibit grass regrowth). The remaining top soil was then divided between three newly made shrubbery beds triangulating this area.

hardcore labour!

That left this winter’s task of levelling off the ground to make adequate depths for the planned gravel garden. It required shifting bucket loads of subsoil (drag, drop, tip) which were then relocated to stabilize woodland paths.

As a consequence of the restricted time and much needed respite from these labour intensive days, I succumbed to planting out some of my evergreen potted plants for the shrubbery beds, before the new plants arrive next month. Maybe I was a little hasty given the fluctuating temperatures but these are fairly tough plants.

First Sight bed – cos first view of the garden!

The holly-like Japanese Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ and the very fragrant Asian hybrid O. burkwoodi now reside in the ‘First Sight’ shrubbery bed whilst ‘Soft Caress’ Chinese Mahonia with its bamboo like leaves occupies the ‘Second Sight’ bed.

This year, I plan to only purchase shrubs for the garden as they and the trees I already have form the structural framework which perennials and ground cover plants can infill at a later time. Annuals though are ideal for this job till then.

Korean Abeliophyllum  soon to bloom

This White Forsythia was an earlier purchase which forms part of the trellis displays, midway into the garden. And on the shopping list (to be collected from Cornwall on my brief holiday next week) are 2 hydrangeas; 1 Daphne, 1 Chaenomoles, 1 Spirea and 1 evergreen azalea (see Japanese Garden planting plans).

But then I came across one of my woodland wishlist perennials in a half-price sale – Disporum ‘night heron’. It was irresistible and so I added 2 more to include the Japanese burnet Sanguisorba Tanna as well as Persicaria superba to grow beside the pond.

Because I have to be restrained when it comes to spending on plants and because there is so much space to fill, I seem to have gone overboard with packets of seeds!. There’s a good mix of annual, perennials and half-hardies, some edibles as well as ornamentals, including the stately Castor Oil plant, the grasses Pennisetum, Chasmanthium, and Thalictrum (Chinese meadow rue), dwarf Chinese asters and a clematis ‘Korean Beauty’.

I’m preparing the top terrace bed as a fruit and vegetable garden. It will be walled with some of the myriad stone blocks that have been uncovered in all my various digs! And this year I’ll be trying out two Japanese vegetables – chopsuey Shungiku’ and a babyleaf Tatsoi.

Researching and buying seeds and plants is as much ground work for the garden as toiling the ground. The year ahead will show the fruits (or not) of both labours! After all

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides (W. E. Johns).

A Scrolling View of the Garden so far:

5 thoughts on “Ground work

    1. the stream is at the base of my daughter’s woodland garden but I catch views through my own woodland as well as over the marsh garden (hence first job I did was to cut and layer the willow trees into a boundary hedge)

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