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April 2004

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Leaf mould, woodland flowers, fussy grasses and an alpine extension

I've had some large bags of leaves rotting beside one of my compost heaps for over a year now and when I had a look recently they had matured into a rich dark brown mould. Last year's dry summer did little to help the woodland area at the end of the garden and more organic matter is clearly required to help with moisture retention. I spread a good thick layer of the mould around the plants. Not only does it help root growth and make the plants feel at home; it gives a more natural "woodland" look. This top dressing with leaf mould is clearly required here on an annual basis.

Several bulb genera do well in these woodland conditions where the shade is not too deep. Several cyclamen species (strictly speaking tubers rather than bulbs) have prospered as has Lilium martagon var. album, while in spring Erythronium ‘White Beauty' and Erythromium dens-canis are particularly striking. In the autumn Colchicum autumnale gives a good display and has increased over a few years.

Several bulb genera do well in these woodland conditions...

I'm struggling again with the arrangement of my grass bed where a second reorganisation is underway. Over-planted and too fussy would have been a kind assessment last summer. I've now removed several offending shrubs and herbaceous plants and reduced the number of grasses. Hopefully the overall effect will be more natural, simpler and cooler than before.
I'll have to wait a few months to find out.

My alpine bed at the side of the house is very steep and sandy and in one area was suffering from rain erosion. A railway sleeper from my old stock has been used to shore up the bank and when I was at it I decided to extend the raised beds again. This time the extension is a small one at right angles to the main bed and is just over two metres long and half as wide. Its in a rather shady position so I'm not expecting to grow any high alpines or sun-lovers. Some small woodland plants or primulas would be happier here. I had some broken tiles left over from a job in the house and these with a supplement of pebbles were used to form a layer of good drainage at the base. I filled up with good compost which I've lightened with more pebbles and now I'll experiment with some potted plants which are lying in my ‘pending' area.

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