51/52: red and green for the season

One little area that was overgrown with seaside daisies has had a re-vamp, just in time for Christmas. Erigeron is great for a cottage garden, spreading itself with wanton abandon. I have a number of plants in the garden that I am constantly trying to control.

Swaying between a casual, cottage garden and a more formal, trimmed and pruned look, I sometimes allow areas to become a little overgrown. Currently this garden bed has been allowed to go a little wild, and was more than ready for some timely revision.

overgrown with seaside daisiesWith that in mind, I dug up all the seaside daisies, Erigeron, and trimmed back the irises to little stalks, reminding myself to separate the bulbs and spread them across this garden bed next March, as two dozen in a clump is rather too much.

Meanwhile, I have planted mainly red bedding begonias , plus some Pratia, a small-leafed ground cover with tiny blue flowers. Hopefully this will eventually cover the entire area, and any Erigeron that sneaks through will be eradicated.

fitting for the seasonred and green makeover for ChristmasThe result is rather festive, just in time for Christmas, but will be lovely on a continuing basis, particularly when the ratio of plants to mulch is greater than at present.

365/366: mulch ado about nothing

Sorry Shakespeare, for torturing your title, but hooray and hallelujah, the pile of mulch is done and dusted. Thanks to my husband’s concerted effort on his days off, the final deadline has been achieved, (by the end of the year), a day ahead of schedule. This is all well and good, but that was actually the third deadline we had made for the mulch, though in all fairness, the other two were just a guideline.

the final barrow of mulch in the driveway

There remain a few piles ready to spread in the back yard, but finally it is finished and we can reclaim the driveway, a good way to end the year.

Being a leap year, Project 365, which should officially end today, has a bonus day tomorrow, for what I like to term Project 365 + 1. It feels a little like the end of a school year. I’m ready for a holiday!


364/366: containment issue: english ivy

You might plant an innocent little cutting, and within a few months or years it has insiduously taken over part of the garden. However, some of these plants are very attractive, so it becomes a containment issue, such as with seaside daisies, fishbone fern and in this case, English ivy. Left to its own devices up in the top tier of the back yard, it spread to such an extent that it was becoming a pest.

looking between the plum trees before minimising ivy

My circle of shame was testament to its hostile takeover, but that transformation will be revealed on New Year’s Eve. Last time it was mentioned it had become a semi-circle of shame.

The giant mountain of mulch has helped spur me on to create places in which to spread it. It’s a win-win situation, getting rid of both the pile in the driveway and creating a new look for the back yard.

last piece of ivy containment

a sense of order restoredA sense of order has now been restored, and will allow much easier access to pick plums.

359/366: wishing you mulch joy

Know thy limitations could be an alternate title. Why do we try to get so many things done “by Christmas”? I have mentioned before that I work best to a deadline, but sometimes you also have to be realistic.

This was the pile of mulch with a deadline, again extended because really, what’s the difference? Family coming to share Christmas Day will not be judging me by my pile of mulch, and if they do, there may be no Christmas pudding for them!

doesn't look muchstill 2 - 3 cubic metres to go

It looks so much less than when we started:

mountain of mulch

So instead of finishing the pile, with more important things to do like wrap presents, some last-minute housework, extra decorations and food preparation, I made it part of the festivities, which is why I wish you mulch joy at Christmas, love Sandi Claus.


mulch joy at Christmas



291/366: edging, the finishing touch

I love adding a little creativity and originality to my garden. While doing so, I look for ways to make the completed project as low maintenance as possible.

In the case of the serial planting in yesterday’s post I didn’t want mulch too close to the bluestone edge, as cats and birds digging around could make the mulch spill over onto the brick path, meaning more sweeping. Sloping the mulch up away from the river stones, I then added some underlay in the form of black polypropolene supermarket bags, which I cut to size, to form a barrier between the soil and the pebbles to avoid weed growth; two problems addressed simultaneously.

By spreading the larger pebbles across the surface there will be little gaps which  could be topped up with tiny pebbles for more thorough coverage.

290/366: serial planter

Unlike a serial murderer, which is bad, a serial planter can be a good thing.

What is better than one nice plant? Answer: more than one of the same. Sometimes they can be in a straight row, at other times in a triangle or cluster. Usually it’s best to have an odd quantity, unless you are going for symmetry with a pair of the same variety, creating an entrance to an area.

Over the past week or two I have been weeding and digging the area under one of the rear bay windows. There was an overgrown rosemary bush being swamped by seaside daisy, some weeds and a variegated plant.

I liked the leafy plant, but didn’t want it in the ground in that area any more, so I have potted it up, and then in each pot and between planted rosemary cuttings, finishing off with stones and mulch.

287/366: halfway thru the pile of mulch

The mulch created by the massive pruning a couple of weeks ago has halved, with a lot of the leg work attributed to my husband. See my professional pruning proliferation, and professional pittosporum pruning posts.

Meanwhile, I have been madly weeding, creating and rearranging edging for places in which to dump barrows of mulch. In the early morning you can see how much heat is generated by the steaming pile of mulch.

273/366: mountain of mulch

Severe pruning has its after-effects, such as this mountain of mulch.

My estimation is eight cubic metres – phew!

All our conifers and variegated pittosporums were mulched, and what better way to recycle this than to put it back on the garden from whence it came.

While mulching is great for weed prevention and moisture preservation, I have learnt something else. If you don’t maintain that mulch by keeping it topped up with fresh mulch, it composts and then in turn provides a beautiful bed for weeds to take hold, the very thing you were trying to avoid in the first place!

Dutchy and I spent two hours outside this morning, with me weeding while he moved twenty wheelbarrows of mulch into the back yard. So far some of it has gone to the top tier, with the rest into the middle tier which I spread around after preparing the area.

The rose garden is now entirely weeded and mulched, another great team effort.

129/366: maple maintenance

The fact that my Weeping Japanese Maples are not like the Whomping Willow of Harry Potter fame and give one shudder where all the leaves fall off simultaneously, means I have to maintain them manually.

At least the three maples in the front garden are never at exactly the same stage of development, so I can stagger the three-step procedure.

Step 1: donning suitable gloves and stripping the branches.

Step 2: using the dead leaves collected as mulch on an area of garden to help cut weeds.

Step 3: pruning the branches where needed. I find there are too many branches and some of them are growing upwards instead of downwards. Sometimes a green maple leaf will shoot from below the graft.

Occasionally branches criss-cross each other to the point where they are in a tangle, so I streamline them. When the branches are devoid of leaves, it is the best time to tackle this so you can see their exact growth habits.



121/366: stumps as pot stands

Once the conifers were lopped and mulched, I set about beautifying the area. See day 117/366: a blank canvas for the bare “before” look.

The stumps actually made good stands for pots that I gathered from other places in the garden. That is one great thing about growing in pots – transportability. They can fill in gaps while other plants establish themselves, and then can be moved to a new location. I do a lot of rearranging like that in my garden. Funny, I love rearranging furniture inside, too.