The Third Year And My Front Garden.

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I had been threatening to dig up the Lawn in my front garden for some time as I have never liked cutting grass, not since I was a child, and had just been looking for an excuse to remove it and put in flower beds. So, when the lawn mower broke at the start of the “Lock Down,” I decided it was time for it to go.
It is quite easy to hire a machine called a “Turf Cutter,” that is simple to use and makes short work of removing turfs, but I decided not to go to the expense and to do it by hand with an ordinary spade. I planned to do a bit each day until it was done, but soon after starting I began to think I was never going to get it finished. Although the soil was poor and largely sandy underneath the turfs it was a lot harder job than I expected. After a heavy shower of rain though it was a little easier and eventually I got it done.
I couldn’t take the turfs to the Council tip, because of the closure due to “Lockdown,” so, I decided to recycle them myself. One of my mates had an Allotment in the next village and he was going to put in some raised beds later in the year. As a result he would want a lot of soil to fill them and after my turfs had had some time to rot down they would be ideal to fill the beds and would save him from buying a load of Top Soil. So I bagged the Turfs up in old Compost Bags and moved them in my car. There was so many I filled 2 of his compost bins and the large bin on my Allotment as well with them. Then after stacking the upturned turfs tidily, I watered them before covering them with plastic compost bags. It is always said that rotted Turfs make very fine Loam that is ideal as a growing media, but I knew they wouldn’t be ready for me to use in my new, planned, Beds.

Soon after starting on the Lawn a friend of mine said that he and a neighbour of his were cutting their shared hedges down a lot and there was going to be a lot of trimmings – could I make use of them? I said I could put them through my Garden Shredder and use them as a Mulch on my Allotment around my Fruit bushes. There were so much of them though, I decided to put some into my Compost Heap to bulk it out. I knew they would take a long time to rot properly being woody, but hoped they would start to break down in the heap a bit before I needed it. This year we had a very dry start to the Season so I did a lot of Hoeing on my Allotment, but the bigger weeds still went on my Compost heap mixing in with the shreddings. It all “Cooked,” nicely in the sunshine and unusually for me, I turned the heap a bit more frequently than usual. This does speed up the “Composting,” action as does wetting it with a can of water occasionally when it gets too dry.



Eventually the Compost Heap was dug out, bagged and taken back to my house to fill the new raised beds that I finally got round to constructing with Logs from work used to edge the beds the same as I had in the back garden. After the Compost from my Allotment was added to the beds they were topped up, with a quantity of spent Compost from old pots that I had accumulated, and quite a few cheap bags of potting compost bought from the local Garden Centre. There was a certain amount of soil thrown up by digging planting holes for some of the plants that had been stored in bigger pots and a bit more soil was added from tidying up the new Paths. It was very poor sandy soil, as you often get under Lawns, but added into the mixture it made a reasonable fill for the beds and when planting, I did add some processed Chicken manure Pellets for good measure.

Initially, I was undecided whether to use stone chippings, or wood chippings for the paths between the beds. Wood chippings can encourage cats to use it as a toilet, but are obviously far friendlier to the environment and would have the Blackbirds rummaging through them all the time after the insects and other creepy crawlies. Stone Chippings are obviously quite expensive to buy, whereas the Wood-Chippings can usually be obtained for free. While I was trying to weigh up the Pros and Cons, I was offered a load of Wood-Chippings so I went with those.

Along with a few Herbaceous perennial plants such as the lovely Alstroemerias, I intended to add some structural plants to the new beds and also some evergreens to give a bit of winter colour. I knew though I would have to make sure that they would not grow too big with penetrating root systems as there were water, gas and sewer pipes running all under the front garden and I had been warned that they were not as deep as modern regulations insist. The front gardens are also supposed to open plan which means no hedges either and considering I removed one last year, the Parish Council should be pleased to see the flowers arrive as should the neighbours. Indeed they loved the Bulb borders that I planted the other year and I had many comments to that effect.


I intended to plant a small Bay Tree that would get big if allowed, but Bays lend themselves to as much pruning and clipping as you want. They are not absolutely hardy, however, but my mate has got one that is some 20 feet tall on his allotment that has grown into a proper tree. If it is a bit sheltered they are usually OK, but they can be cut down by hard winters and in the past I have found that they will often shoot from around the base to re-grow after frost damage.

Other structural plants I intended to put in included a couple of Dwarf Bamboos that were divisions from one in my back garden, and a Fatsia Japonica that was also in my back garden, but was in a pot on my yard. Fatsias do like a bit of shade and will bulk up in size, with their big, showy leaves, when they get older. I decided to add a Lonicera Nitidia Baggesons Gold, with its tiny, yellow leaves that I could clip to shape and which would perhaps be better suited to the dry conditions in my front garden. A Variegated Sage, Cotton Lavender and Curry Plant would also be at home in the dry conditions. I found it was a little damper in the bed closer to the house where it is a little shadier, so I found a couple of young Hostas that I had grown from cuttings. I also decided to add some more colourful foliage plants as well including the red leaves of a tender Canna Lily. Buying a biggish plant I managed to divide it to give 3 separate pot-fulls. They are quick growing plants that will multiply up readily, but are very tender and would need to be dug up to go in the Greenhouse every Winter. They also like plenty of water so would need to be watered regularly.
Other plants I planned for the beds were a nice red Heuchera, some colourful Hebes and a couple of small yellow leaved Phormiums, but none of the similar and more tender, Cordylines.


On my Allotment I had a little assortment of young Trees that had been there for some time. Some were in strong, “Root Training, Fibre, Bag Pots,” some in plastic pots and some simply in the ground. A little while ago I decided to have a bit of a sort out and looking at them I felt that the Variegated Myrtle would be a good candidate to add a bit of variety, colour and evergreen structure to my newly created front garden. There is never really a good time to move Evergreens as they don’t have a dormant period like Herbaceous plants and Deciduous Trees do, but I thought that if I was careful, and with a lot of T.L.C., I could dig it out and pot it up prior to re-planting. Watering it well and keeping it in the shade after potting would help with the move and I was hopeful it would take in its new situation. The Myrtle does have juicy berries that are said to be edible and quite tasty, although, I have never had any yet. It has suffered in the past on my exposed Allotment as they are a little tender, so, I thought it would do better amongst the houses in my front garden where it is more sheltered.


Another bush, or tree, that I was tempted to put in my garden was a “Spindle Tree”, or Euonymus Europaeus. The little one that was growing on my Allotment had some lovely pink flowers on it that preceded the poisonous, bright orange/red berries which had already developed early on in the year. Although, both leaves and fruit are poisonous, wildlife love this small tree that is so called because its thin trunks were used to turn “Spindles,” to be used in furniture in olden days. My little Spindle Tree is multi stemmed with no one single trunk which should help to keep it small, so, for a while, at least, I decided to grow it on in a large tub on my yard in the back garden.

After the beds had been filled it proved a quick and simple job to plant it all up, but it was totally wrong to start a big planting exercise during the dry weather. However, I had no choice as I wanted to get it done before the Autumn so that the plants could settle in and would be ready to withstand the next Winter. Then, next year, the beds should make quite a display for which I might even win the best front garden in the Village award!

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