Extending the Herbaceous Border at Pig Row

We've just got a new large hoe at Pig Row. It's an Elwell hoe, for those in the know there may be hushed moment of reverence for a great tool maker who made beautiful tools fit to be wielded by tall people. That was his legacy from Ironbridge. The hoe itself reflects my stature at six foot four inches and cuts through the soil like butter in a frying pan. So, it seemed fitting that this tool found in the labyrinth of a local tool emporium (the owner said, 'They don't make them like this anymore'. An understatement, they haven't made tools like this since Elwell ceased to be in 1930) should be christened in extending our herbaceous border at the bottom of the garden.

This wide border is loosely called the herbaceous border but is really a holding bed for new plants at the moment. It receives some shelter from the back of the house and is the lowest part of the garden. Surprisingly, it is not the wettest part of the garden and the subsoil is sandstone and scree. We only want straight beds in the allotment, seen below through the archway, so sinuous paths are being employed elsewhere on Pig Row including here. When the hornbeam hedge cutting across the width of the garden is up, now at three feet and growing strong, you won't be able to see the allotment's straight path from this garden and the lower garden will become a mix of herbaceous, annuals and vegetable beds for winter crops. We like to mix our vegetables in between the flowers and we will probably put some fruit in too. Also, in winter is less of a trudge up the hill.

We have curved the path around here to the left, later the turf will be replaced with a brick or gravel path. Here you can see the line of the old bed against the fresh soil of the new bed, extended by around two feet. The old turf has been stacked to rot down and the first of our garden compost was dug into the fresh bed. We planted the edges of the path with Nepeta Pool Bank and filled in the gaps with a Californian Salad Mix, you can see a close up of this below.

All this work took around two hours including planting and some weeding. You can see below that we don't try to hide our rubble or problem areas at Pig Row. As the garden is coaxed back into life, other areas suffer as we move rubble down the hill. The allotment has suffered this year with rampant weeds and sodden soil. Plans are afoot here to replace the top part of the allotment with a polytunnel and we have started a fundraising campaign for this. Please do donate, pounds or pence help us get closer to growing under cover and anyone who donates will have our thanks. You can see below the rubble that accumulated and that there are still things to do, weeds to pull, a wood pile to cut, old pallets to turn into kindling, an old washing pole to dig out, new steps to build down to the cloister, a siting area to construct from stone, couch grass to eradicate and spuds to dig up. It never ends but that is the cycle of gardening, no garden is low maintenance.