Winter projects 1, somewhere to sit.

Title photograph : driveway edge with my planter boxes foreground and the sitting area as it was when i first laid it out.

Winter projects….garden.


December…WABI’” is ashore at Calstock boatyard and i’m back home getting some hard work done in the garden.  In real time i’m actually working hard to finish the Leylandi removal job but very bad weather has brought that to a halt.

I’m going to run one set of winter project posts about jobs on the boat/in the shed and a second one about the 4 main projects that iv’e got going in the garden : i haven’t really touched the gardens for a whole year after my knee replacement so you can well imagine the state they are in !

It’s been a warm and wet summer in Cornwall and of course i was away for 3 months of it, that and having not done much out there for a whole year meant that there was heavy work to do.  I’ve just finished a huge site clearance of heavy weed, ivy, bramble and invasive sapling growth plus done a major cut-back of the hazel and beech ‘screen’ trees as they have had a big growth year and got too heavy….too much foliage and light blocked.  Last month we had a pile of debris ready to go that was some 20 feet long and 5 deep so that had to go professionally.

One of the harder and more tedious jobs was stripping out layers and layers, thousands of individual bulbs, of invasive Monbretia, which had entirely taken over the wild section of the front garden.  We pulled a lot of that out by hand and then i went back in with a fork and rake to go down another layer and scrape bulbs out by the hundred.  As i look around this morning there’s a few breaking through again so it needs another session yet.    Once that’s all out i’m going to do a quick and rough re plant with cheapo daffodils for this year and then mulch the whole area with collected leaf-mold.

In real time iv’e also just planted 250 English bluebells and 200 large Crocus…..something like this which is what the patch looked like in early spring.


Despite having 2 relatively large gardens we don’t actually have anywhere that’s just a nice place to sit outside in either of them.  There are a couple of reasons for that, mainly in that i always conceived the front, and very public, garden more as a vegetable garden/allotment than a ‘social’ space.  When we first came here i stripped out a very badly laid out ‘designer’ garden and re-built the whole area around 5 deep-bed (hugel-bed) structures….we had to do that because the base soil will have have had metalliferous mine waste on it which would have contained heavy metals !.  The vegetable beds are all new and clean soil plus lots of organic matter by the way.

Early on i created what should have been an arbor in one corner that i intended to grow climbing plants over except they all failed to thrive and the paving i put in made from re-purposed granite blocks (from the RN Royal William yard) just kept being taken over by deep rooting dandelion.

Before.  The area in front of the bench i had paved with granite blocks retrieved from the Royal William yard….nice except the weeds just fire up in-between the blocks.  The structure in centre left is an old, small and not very effective vegetable bed.


The actual job then, stage by stage.

1.Remove and stack all the granite block paving (approximately 2 tons)

2.Remove and re-use all the soil from the small bed next to the paved area. Separate out all the bulbs and save.

3.Strip off and level the subsoil, remove all weed roots.

4.Cover previously paved area with multiple layers of weed mat and cover with deep layer of decorative stone.  Ditto with former flower bed except cover with bark.

5. Re-plant all spare containers with mix of new and old bulbs, multi-layered, clean up and repair bench.  Last stage will be to chose and plant new ‘climbers’ not decided on yet.

After.   Bare soil scraped down to hard base-clay, covered with weed mat and then several inches of decorative stone.  Former wooden path and vegetable bed removed from foreground and covered with bark mulch.  New vegetable bed (centre-right) topped up with soil….green bin is one of 4 compost bins on site !


Gradually re-planting containers….on the left i am going to plant a mini ‘hedge’ in the larger containers to further shield this area from the road.


In real time, this is the situation in the unregistered land behind our workshop ; most of the Leylandi down and broken down into a pile of poles and a brash pile.



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