Groundworks for the Herb Garden

People laughed at us for keeping our rubble. They said we were soft in the head. 'Get a skip,' they'd say, 'Get rid of the crap'. But one man's rubble is another man's hardcore. What was left of our kitchen floor, kitchen walls and our myriad of crap has been bagged up waiting. It has become the foundations for a shed, a glasshouse and the utility shed. What once was a hundred bags of rubble is now down to a mere half dozen and none of it has left our site. The same people would say, 'But aye, you could have brought in aggregate when you needed it. Not have all that hardcore hanging around'. We would have but then a tonne bag of aggregate costs money, and costs the environment, what we had was free and on site. It may not be carbon neutral but it's as close as we can get to it. So laugh away and we'll keep on recycling, even the stone we have for the creation of our new herb garden has been dug out of the soil around here. There have been more dry stone walls crossing our garden over the centuries than we can map. We have a hawthorn hedge nestled on top of the remains of one wall, long buried and we dug up another wall by the glasshouse, we have even built our own along the way from cottage garden to orchard we brim dry stone walls. Our hill is two thirds stone and where we can, we'll use it and that is why today we have a serpentine shape wending its way through our front garden.

stone, gardening, dry stone walling, life on pig row, herbs

This trench will help form the edge of our herb bed but we want this wall to be solid and that means all that remaining hardcore is now in a trench ready for a new, if smaller, stone edged wall. You use what you have in our garden rather than hauling something in. Even the stone flags you can see in the photos are earmarked to fill in a hallway so we can then lay a new slate floor. Sadly, these flags will vanish as hardcore in the void below the rotting wooden floor that is there now. Nothing is wasted here, nothing needs to be with a little thinking, our house and garden are a slide puzzle. So, we stand outside on what is a glorious sunny day and decide the shape of our new herb bed.

herbs, gardening, life on pig row, growing

We agree that a straight bed will look a little utilitarian in a front garden, so we talk animal shapes, we could have a knot garden in the shape of wolf? No. We could make it look like a bear scratching it's bum? No. We want something that is naturalistic, sweeping, what's it called? A brush? NO! A rill? No. Dick Van Dyke? Get stuffed. Kidney shaped. You're taking the piss. Ha ha. Sod off. Like a snake but not a snake. A worm? I'll hit you in a minute. Serpentine? That's it! Then we have to 'discuss' how big our serpent's slithering is. How wide it will slither and slide. Whether the table will fit when we have finished. So we go and find the table, stored away, something fungal living on it for the last few years. So, we clean it. Pull faces and gag at whatever it is. Then we can't remember how to put the bloody thing up. That way! No, this way! Told you so. Pillock. The table fits, the table fits so well that we discuss what will go underneath it to stop it from wobbling and what pots we'll have for more herbs, more flowers, more colour. We have a clematis montana for over the window or maybe a rose or maybe wisteria? No, never wisteria. Too much of a faff and we are not exactly sheltered here. We had a wisteria at Drovers, our old garden, it took us three years to get it eight foot up the side of the house and then a van caught it and dragged it away towards the M60. We didn't notice for a fortnight, it was a truly unspectacular plant.

herbs, gardening, growing, grow your own, life on pig row

We agree in the curve, in the serpent's belly that we will get a half barrel, bury it and create a small wildlife pond for us to accidentally step in to when drunk. Our front garden has gone from neglect, to builders yard to the curvaceous lines of something that promises to be special. It is an exciting moment, the creation of a garden.


  1. I've been happily following your blog for a while now, and this post resonated with me particularly because I have just built a herb bed with dug out hard core under, loam from stacked turfs over and a retaining wall of red brick ex-ugly barbeque. All free from what was here already.

    1. We'd love to see it, do share any photos on our Facebook page at or email them us at The hardcore will give great drainage.