Since you're all waiting impatiently for the next episode of our garden-related work (I am being swamped under massive amounts of fan mail... wait, why don't you believe me? :p), here it is: a compost story!
Waste recycling, sustainable development, good food for plants... Whatever. We want to make some compost. In our family, compost production is rather primitive: my father-in-law uses a heap, and since we're following his advice, well, we're going to use a heap as well. Still, we need to chose a location for the heap. The "logical" location for that (in our specific kind of logic, anyway) is behind the garden shed, because it's not visible from the canopy. However, that's the location we'd used to store the wood from the dreaded thujas.
Ok, so we moved these away. But then, while it's nice to say: "so, let's make a compost heap!", you need stuff to "feed" it. Hence began the first, rather epic stage of compost-making; between July and late February, we were still living in a flat, roughly 15 km away from the house... So we had to use a second bin to sort our organic waste in our very, very small kitchen. Guess what was on Manu's knees in the car every week-end?...
Anyway, between the organic waste from the flat's kitchen, various weeds and small branches, the heap started to look somewhat like, well, a heap:
While it worked in terms of "making compost", it wasn't really too handy: it dries really fast, tends to damage the shed, and a lot of it is wasted when the heap needs to be turned over. Because of that, we dug a small trench and used some of the numerous concrete slabs left over by the former owners to make something more appropriate:
Still, you got to admit that it's definitely not too aesthetically pleasing... As it happens, I'd planned on planting periwinckles on the right side of the shed's door:
I'd added some iris bulbs in Autumn. However, some climbing plant was definitely required to hide the compost heap. In addition, various animals enjoyed digging into the heap a little too much, so there was still a lot off waste as they threw some compost out of the pit, onto the grass in front of it. We "fixed" these two problems in March:
We added some more concrete slabs in front of it (in order to make it easier to put whatever the birds and cats extract from the pit back into it) and a winter jasmine on a wooden lattice to hide it from the path (it still needs to grow though).
I am currently trying to grow a few annual plants near the left part of the pergola: some morning glories and nasturtium (the morning glories have already germinated). I have to wait until next Autumn to replace them with perennial plants. On the right side of the pergola, there is yet another clematis (a white "Gladys Picard" this time) and a red climbing rose bush given by my father-in-law (I have no clue what its name is). In front of the clematis there's a curry plant that will hopefully help protect the lower part of the clematis' from direct sunlight... but it will not happen any time soon: for now the curry plant must be at most 5 cm high, as I obtained it from the school's lawn, where it grew on its own and ended up getting mowed a few times. It's a survivor, so I'm hoping it will be happy there.
As for the bricks and pieces of plastic and cardboard, I'm trying to use them to get rid of the grass as I want to make another flower bed there.
When we started thinking about how to organise the garden, we considered it would be logical to create a bed of aromatic plants near the canopy, as this is where the kitchen's door leads (yes, we are lazy and we don't feel like having to walk around whenever we need three sprigs of chive). So we choose to do that on the other side of the path relative to the garden - the area with red-ish, brick-like borders on the picture.
In its original state, the area in question more or less included a cherry tree, a rhododendron, some sea thrift and a lot of houseleeks, and it was covered with pine barks, as usual. Near the cherry tree, there were also a ceanothus and another rhododendron. Oh, and there was some kind of huge, quite rickety and rather scary concrete "cup" - an accident waiting to happen really. And a drip for the cherry tree. Yes, that white, vertical thing near the trunk is actually a pipe which was used by the former owners to water the cherry tree... which had been there for 6 years... in an area that used to be a swamp... :s
Of course, the gas tank's removal did not help either. Let's just say one of the rhododendrons did not enjoy being rolled over repeatedly by a trailer truck.
We started clearing the area: removing the brick-like borders, the pine bark and the scary cup. The base of the cup went 50cm into the ground, so it was definitely not easy, especially in the middle of a dry August; removing the cherry tree's drip wasn't much easier, and indeed there's still a little chunk of PVC pipe somewhere below
Then I started adding plants from various window boxes I'd had for years: aromatic plants of course (thymus, rosemary, savoury, chive, etc.) as well as a few as various flowers such as daylilies, carnations, Christmas roses, columbines, perennial geraniums, violets, lily-of-the-valey...
I planted a few stonecrops and houseleeks near the head of the cherry tree, as the area is really dry...
I added some bulbous plants (yellow grape hyacinths, irises and tulips), as well as a "The President" clematis and a "GoldFlame" honeysuckle to cover the pergola, in Autumn.
I added a few more aromatic plants and some ornamental plants my father-in-law gave me in November:
And here's what it looks like now:
... and a few lovely pictures:
The columbines are starting to bloom, so is the honeysuckle (although its flowers are rather ugly as they started blooming right before Winter), and the clematis is budding...
It looks nice, but there were a few screw-ups.
- There used to be a bottlebrush (a layer from my father-in-law's), but it did not survive the Winter.
- There's lesser celandine everywhere, and I'm afraid I'm going to have a hard time getting rid of it.
- The light green plant at the front is devil-in-a-bush, unless I'm mistaken. There's a lot of that growing everywhere as well, and I'll need to find a way to "segregate" them (I like the plant, but it's a tad invasive).
- I was hoping the black and white tulips would flower at the same time... as it turns out, the white tulips bloom earlier than the black ones.
- It's a little bland right at the beginning of Spring. I need to add daffodils and more tulips.
- The honeysuckle got invaded by aphids; most of them have died out now, but the leaves were badly damaged.