Flower bed help!

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Willow_Warren

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Flower bed help!
« on: March 17, 2015, 10:13 »
When I moved into my house last year there wasn't a single plant or border in the garden, there was plenty of gravel though!

My intention was to turn one of the gravel areas to a flower bed and the other to a veg patch. The "flower" bed is pictured below. I cleared and lightly dug this over in the autumn hoping the frost would do some if the work... But as you can so below it is still very clumpy and those clumps are hard to break up!  I'm thinking it could be quite clay soil?

But what do I do? I don't want bear earth all summer, I want plants, I've bought a few already, no doubt the wrong ones for the soil.... I've read a bit about clay soil, assuming I'm right, but have I left it too late to do anything this summer?

The bit to the right of the pole I want to turf, and curve off the bed to make a nicer shape.  The chickens have been making a bit if a bust bath in there, they always seem to manage to make soil finer than I can!

Flower bed by Willow_Warren, on Flickr
P.s. Ignore the messiness of my decking!

Any advice welcome  :)

Hannah

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Goosegirl

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Re: Flower bed help!
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2015, 12:17 »
It does sound like clay soil, or possibly sub-soil if your home is relatively new and the area hasn't been cultivated in the past. Don't dig it over when its wet - wait for it to dry out a bit and wang your fork over the clods to break them down. The gravel should help with drainage but you need to dig deeper and add sharp sand and/or grit as you go.  Manure or mushroom compost will also provide organic matter as it breaks down over time. Can you give us some idea of what sort of flower bed you want (annuals, perennials) and if you want any shrubs and, if so, what sort and how tall? Do you want a screen, a small hedge, something to edge the border, or something permanent interspersed with flowers. What kind of garden do you like? Cottage, general, whatever grows well, all-year-round interest, modern or minimal?
Spring always comes when we sow the seeds of life.

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Willow_Warren

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Re: Flower bed help!
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2015, 15:47 »
Dig deeper  :blush: no... No... I'm not scared of hard work!

I'm not sure what type of bed I was looking for!  Cottage garden look, I wanted sunflowers against the fence as it's sunny and one grew through the rough gravel last year (assume it was a seed a bird dropped).

I've 24 lavender plants to go somewhere which  I bought cheap as plugs last year, but know they like well drained soil so not sure what to do with them! Bought a erysimum and a agapanthus, the former says it likes sandy well drained soil so it might be doomed! Perhaps I should have assessed my soil and not just bought what I liked!

Lol... It's dry so I'm going to go out in the garden and scratch my head for I bit...

H   :lol:

 

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bendipa

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Re: Flower bed help!
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 21:26 »
Ideally you should dig in plenty of humus type material, eg any of the following - well rotted horse manure, leaf mould, compost, even peat if you can find a stockist etc. Over a year or so the clay structure will break down into finer soil fragments. There must be loads of stables near you who would be happy for you to take horse manure off their hands  ;)

Meanwhile I'd start by maybe planting a few bush roses, Hybrid teas in particular. Most of them thrive in clay. Apart from blue there is a great range of colours and they flower on/off for months from late May up to the frosts
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 21:28 by bendipa »

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Goosegirl

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Re: Flower bed help!
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2015, 11:44 »
I've 24 lavender plants to go somewhere which  I bought cheap as plugs last year, but know they like well drained soil so not sure what to do with them! Bought a erysimum and a agapanthus, the former says it likes sandy well drained soil so it might be doomed! Perhaps I should have assessed my soil and not just bought what I liked!
Ummm - we've all done that! You could build a little raised bed filled with compost, soil and grit for your lavenders and put the erysimum and Agapanthus in pots. Agas do like to be pot-bound as they flower better that way. Improve your soil as said but, if you plant something, make the planting hole twice as big and deeper than the rootball. Put the soil from the hole into a container then add compost and bonemeal and scrumble it up with the soil then add a bit of water and let it drain. Put some of this mix in the bottom of the hole and firm it down so that the rootball will be level with the top of the hole. Back-fill with the rest of the compost mix and firm down again as you go, then water it in. If you get bare-rooted roses, do the same but jiggle the plant as you back-fill so the mix can get into the root spaces.

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Willow_Warren

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Re: Flower bed help!
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 16:21 »
Just a quick updated.

I have dug some more compost and manure into said bed.

I had some potatoes that I had no space for elsewhere so I decided to use this bed for potatoes this year as even if they don't do well I've not got a lot to loose.  Then over next winter I can work on digging it over and putting more mature/compost etc into it, hopefully improving it as I go.

My erysimum and agapanthus are now in terracotta pots so should be safe for the year and I've potted my lavender up into larger pots (cheap plastic ones as I can't afford that many terracotta ones).

Sunflower seeds I bought may have to wait for another year!

H :)



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