Planting a lavender bed

02 digging over stepgardenIf my favourite radio commentator Jim Maxwell had his binoculars train on me this week he would have said this: ‘Jeez, she’s like a dog let off a chain, look at her go.’

It has been full on.  But when a gardener has been cooped up for too long with Projects Planned then it is no surprise that I have been hard at it.  The weather was perfect, mild and sunny; I had a willing wall builder, and I was raring to go.

One morning to weed and dig over this bed; one day to build it. One afternoon to get the whole thing planted up, well watered and mulched. Oh, and nipping up to town to collect the plants first.

This was the big order from Filippi which was delivered prompty to the garage twenty minutes away. 03 ready for the wall

And I think I got off lightly for the kind offer of space for the palette of plants: one large bunch of narcissus with euphorbia as filler. Luckily I had a few of the early daffs and some just flowering paperwhite narcissus still going in the garden to be able to make up a bouquet for Madame Marton.

Pause.  My internet has slowed to a crawl for some reason. I might make this a photo essay rather than a lengthy show and tell. (And let’s face it, how keen can one be?)

Here is the step garden once I had removed the eragrostis grasses (those were transplanted into the pool garden bank) and the gaura and the verbenas.  Oh and the many weeds, and one surviving teasel plant. And a very stubborn  prunelier (blackthorn) which had roots growing underneath the footings of the steps. Most annoying. I had to get the loppers for that.

04 wall in progressI took out the little line of stones which marked out the narrow bed.  And then set to forking over the slope.  I’m trying my best to avoid any strimming in my early middle age. Mowing is so much easier. So this slope had to go.

I was worried that this was a bedrock of granite and I would have to live with it. But it’s just an artificial slope that only contained about sixty rocks and lesser stones.

They all came out and went into buckets, ready for Nicolas.

I am relegated to the very minor role of stone sorter with these walls.  I grade them according to titchy, medium, heavy, and then leave anything boulder sized well alone.

Oh, and I marked out where I would like the wall to go. I just wanted it 05 wall builtto follow the curve of the house, mirroring the bed on the other side.

I thought just two rows of rocks for this small wall should do it. The expert said, with a sigh: ‘It’s on a slope. I’ll have to start high and taper it down to two rows of rocks’.  You ninny.

He didn’t add that, but he was probably thinking it.  That and reminding me that for the last four years I have promised him thi07 lavenders will be the last wall he has to build. Every single time.

If I think back that would be the wall in the shade garden, the one holding up the walnut bank, the new wall to replace the one in front of the herb garden. And this week’s wall in the potager.

Yep, never believe me when I say this is the last. I just love these instant (one day) transformations to this garden.  Am I the Imelda Marcos of dry stone walls? Probably.

The plants are not the usual nursery fare: these ones are all root and very little showy top. But they will romp away if I get it right.

I only had the ten lavenders to plant up. (I wish I had ordered twelve.) But I did the jo08 lavender plantedb properly – a deep hole, well watered and then drained.  The plant placed deep and then back filled to create a basin of shallow soil so they can get their bucket of water once a fortnight for a year. And then they’ll be left alone to thrive.

I’ll need to take cuttings of the Nizza lavenders in a few months time to try and get the whole front fow of plants complete. The bed narrows, but I can see it could do with two more small plants.

Nicolas very kindly added yet more topsoil to the beds at the end of the day to make sure I was well supplied.  These roots have to go very deep to put on the spectacular growth to match the lavenders on the other side.

A temporary mulch of just raked oak leaves to start. I will chip proper branches to tone down the rather glaring orange glow of the leaves. And also to prevent the whole effort blowing away in next week’s predicted gales.

09 lavenders mulchedI stood back and applauded one of the busiest and most productive days in the garden. Did we celebrate? Indeed. Two large glasses of fizzy water and a handful of olives and some slightly stale cashews to wash the water down.  I have had no time at all to do anything as frivolous as shopping for food this week. Pah.

Next post will be all about gravel. I bet you can’t wait.