Project: Lose a tree, Gain a border

This was going to be a straight tree removal but as it turns out, there’s a great opportunity to create a new space to mellow out in…The problem was twofold: firstly there was a 6m conifer that was estimated to grow another 2m or so and blocked a lot of light and sucked all the moisture and nutrients out of the ground, and secondly I didn’t want to cut it down, even though I knew it had to go at some point. I actually struggled with this choice for a year (more if I’m honest). It’s not my fault (it is) that I liked the tree! It was a perfectly good tree, very healthy and the birds loved nesting in it; the only problem was that it was the wrong tree for the location. So I bit the bullet and got someone to chop it. Why not do it myself? Because I have no way of getting rid of all the material and frankly chainsaws are lethal. I have no problem using one but why do that if someone ele can benefit from chopping their limbs off instead?

This is what the area looked like before and after.

You may have guessed I didn’t really get the blonde to cut the tree down. Now the tree is gone there is a massive amount of extra light coming in and all I had to do was dig out the stump. This is now known as ‘that bastard stump!’ as it was the toughest stump I’ve had to dig out, and there have been a few!

All the soil from around the stump has now been backfilled into the hole and the contents of the compost heap added to the area, ready for the next stage: new stuff.

The New Area

This is the back of the back garden. A place where the summerhouse is set up for lazy evenings or to lounge about in. It’s really not somewhere most people enjoy with us as if there’s a party on we tend to stay in the main lawn. So it’s safe to class it as a private area and one where we want to relax in quietly.

Waddya want?

So far I have a rough idea. I need height to block out the window that can now see into our bedroom (Q: well why didn’t you trim the conifer instead? A: Because it would have left too much dead wood exposed.) and I want it to be mellow and relaxing. Nothing prickly or sharp. I’m thinking of a Betula Jacquemontii or maybe a narrow flowering cherry. I’ve also always wanted a cotinus (smokebush) and have a small sambucus nigra to go in, with maybe Tradescantia Pallida for ground cover and some japanese painted ferns. Will also need something to cover the fence. I’m thinking hard about it as it distracts me from wondering if it’s all a horrible mistake to axe such a fine tree!

Design a border for me!

If you fancy a punt at designing the new border for me then drop me a line. It’s north facing (so the fence is at the back taking most of the sun) and the soil had a large conifer in it for many years and although improved with compost and soon manure, it will be in a sorry state and slightly acidic.


Blank canvas

Your starter for ten

October Update

Changes are being made in small amounts. The corner of the summerhouse had a few tatty plants in them that really hadn’t thrived and I knew there was a reason, just not what it was. Now I do. The corner was dug out and the sunken pots had been planted with lots of crocks still in so and moisture was running straight through and not watering the plant much. There’s a sunken half water butt that had a kerria in and that has been shifted slightly and replanted with a black bamboo and ferns planted around the sunken barrel.

The summerhouse itself was that ‘I’m new!’ shade of timber so that got a coat of ‘creocote’ dark to match in with the arch and the shed. While I was at it I figured the fence also looked awful so I did that too! The darker colour should set the plants off quite nicely.

The border has been dug several times, adding stuff to bind the sandy soil together a bit and the tree stump that was dug out has been rolled into another border as a wildlife hotel.

In terms of new plants I’ve sourced a Prunus Serrula instead of the Himalayan birch, so a slightly different option. The bark is a brilliant shiny cherry red that peels away and when caught by the light looks astoundingly good. Other plants haven’t been bought yet but I have stuck in the spares I had knocking about – a twisted willow and a viburnum and a nandina – all of which need a few seasons to grow in properly.

Mid October update

I found a smoke bush on offer so have bought that and stuck it toward the back corner; it should grow up to fill out quite nicely and there’s a Japanese fuchsia in the extreme corner behind it too to give some height. I also bought some snow drop bulbs but they tend not to do well for me when planted like this, much better to have been ‘in the green’ but it’s the wrong time of year so tough titty! There’s also some crocus gone in for Spring and some cyclamen. I noticed the blueberry bush I had in a pot has amazing Autumn colour so that went the ground too. It’s amazing there’s still a huge amount of space to fill…


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