So far I haven’t been able to tell if there were ever any garden beds against the front wall which is an ash brick fence, quite common in this area. A past resident, Father Peter, said there used to be a hedge and will try and find some photos for me.
For now, there are no plantings at all along the wall – the grass runs right up to the brickwork which accentuates the bareness of the block. My plan is to have a deep bed running along the wall with some sweeps of beds emerging so it doesn’t look like a harsh straight line. The wall provides some shading and protection which hopefully means I can grow some of my favourites like camellias, azaleas and gardenias which I plan to mix in with ornamental weeping maples and cherry trees for height. I’m looking at filling in mid height with plants such as salvias for lots of colour and attracting birds, then adding in lots of perennials – and lets not forget heaps of herbs and masses of roses, including old fashioned ramblers.
My initial impression was that the soil near the wall was rock hard and I needed to build it up with digging, newspaper, layers of mulch, followed by compost over perhaps a 6 – 8 month period. However after some rainfall the past few weeks, I was happily surprised over the weekend when I experimented to find that the soil was relatively easy to dig and appeared to be good quality with plenty of cheery and healthy worms. This should significantly cut down on work and speed up the establishment of the beds. Fired up with this discovery, I promptly planted two white Azaleas either side of the front gate.
In the past with the few gardens I’ve had (I change properties rarely), the task was much less daunting – it was just a matter of improving the basics of what was already established. In this case it is much more a challenge of creating much of the garden from a blank canvas – and it’s a big garden. This means a bit more discipline and thought than required in the past. In the meantime, I’m falling back to my usual pattern- just buying what I like, putting it in and then working the beds out from there. Other than the gate Azaleas, so far I have 2 Lilacs, a transplanted Elderberry (what a mistake to think this would work in the veggie bed!), and another Azalea. A rambling rose, a Rhododendron and 2 Camellias await in pots for their next home. Oh, and a few more plants have been ordered from Diggers, including an Albertine Rose.