Weeding the barn garden path

1iris detailI blame the irises. I was trying to take more shots of this very fleeting display. Irises will only flower here for about two weeks a year.  And I found I kept pulling weeds out of the shot. Before I knew it, I was downing the camera and having a really good session so that the flowers would shine and you wouldn’t be distracted by bramble tendrils sneaking into the shot.

And then I sat back and had a think.

These iris grow right on the edge of a teensy terrace. It’s the top of some lovely granite rocks which I keep clear so the moss can grow and look fetching as a contrast to all the shrubs.

The top of these rocks is just a path to get from one part of the barn garden rocks to the other. It is about 15 feet long by two or three feet wide.irisbanklongview

I cleared as much soil as I could a few years ago (see my Farm Tour section – Barn Garden for the gory details). Then put down a weedproof fabric. And covered the path with gravel.

It looked good for about four months.  But one thing I have learned about gardening on terraces is that gravity has an effect on anything you do.  And in this instance that means soil will insist on being washed down from one terrace to another.

And too much soil was accumulating from the hedge area above (gorgeous hornbeams, heavily mulched) to this path.

1path weededGravel gardens are a very difficult thing to perfect.

Mine was more of a path with gravel and weeds.  Some I like. There is thyme.  But also an achillea that grows too tall to fit in with the low growing rocks, plus my ubiquitous brambles.

Oh, and an ant’s nest. I found that out when I stated weeding. Actually Artur noticed it first as he was sitting next to me while I worked and he leapt up and moved away at great speed for a cat of his advanced years.

So I looked down wondering why he moved and saw that I was covered in ants.  Angry ants.  Thank goodness I had my thick work boots and jeans on.  It would have been a very painful exercise in shorts.

Experience has taught me that you just need to move away from the nest and start somewhere else. They will either settle down in the same spot or find a new nest.

I shredded my fingers getting out the brambles so close to the rocks. But the job is complete.

Now all I needed to do was a spot of recycling. I am short of gravel at the mo. So the pebbles on this path need picking up and then washing and placing on the path below that receives the most foot traffic.1irispath weeded

The moles are unhelpfully digging a tunnel right on the edge of the path and shovelling soil everywhere.

And then comes a bit of garden design. I have to come up with some sort of ground cover to make this path one that is less of an eyesore and more of a coherent space.  So that means adding soil (oh the irony after years of removing the stuff) and sowing it over with grass seed.

To do that I need soil. And all the soil is sitting in a pretty heap about 150 metres away from this spot.  I could do the bucket and soil and car trick again. But my back is still aching from last week’s exercise.

pebblesI had booked Manu the Muscles to come up and do a few hours work. But he has failed to not only turn up, but to answer any texts or listen to phone messages.  So I have no idea where he has gone. And it’s a shame because this would be ideal. Buckets, nay a wheelbarrow load, of soil. Then I could rake over the narrow path and sow grass seeds.  The weather is perfect – we are having showers and drizzle.  Grass seed germination season if ever there was some.

I will need to keep some gravel right up against the irises as I love the contrast, and also it will stop me accidently strimming the fantastic strappy leaves of the plants.  Because this path is never going to see a lawn mower. It can only be accessed by steps. And that means the strimmer.   But actually it might even become a nice place to sit if the grass grows.

I’m conscious that there are very few seats in this large garden.  None in among the plants, that’s for sure.  But then it hasn’t been a priority in the last eight years. After all, who has time to actually sit down and watch the plants grow? Leisure, what on earth is that?