Kristen's Project

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Kristen, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    Strangely a plant on my Want List for years that I have never purchased. We have a fair amount of spring flowering though, and we don't entertain much at that time, so something that flowers from middle of July through to end of September would be perfect :)

    I did buy a Viburnum plicatum mariesii to fill a gap - but that is Spring too of course (although a bit later, May I expect)

    Saw a lovely one in France last year in the Jardins de Valloires

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Viburnum plicatum mariesii[​IMG]

    They also had some rather spiffy coned-shaped Hornbeams that I fancy having a go at.

    [​IMG]

    Sorry, not a fan of Heather (other than the one that was at College ... :) )

    I have a couple of French Figs (Rouge de Bordeaux and White Marseilles) that (I think?) would be too tender outside, or failing that wouldn't have enough "summer" to ripen in time.

    We don't like Apricots very much, so a Nectarine (Lord Napier I think?) and dunno if they are a gimmick? but I am trying both Aprium and Pluot.

    I probably ought to do Oranges (and a Lemon?).

    If I could get a half decent harvest then I'd like to try an Almond too.

    Recommendations for varieties would be appreciated. Pretty sure last time I looked for Oranges I didn't really tun up much for "Grow in UK for a Crop" (as distinct from fleece-a-punter-for-a-pot-plant-that-will-only-ever-be-a-disappointment)

    Still wondering whether I am daft to build a block wall (North side) for them ... but the foundation trench is dug, so i suppose its fait accompli already ...
     
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    • 2nd_bassoon

      2nd_bassoon Super Gardener

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      We've got a Meyer's lemon that probably does touch on the fleece-a-punter end of the scale, but we needed one that was relatively hardy as we've not got a greenhouse or conservatory. Having said that, it gives us a few good fruits each year despite only being a couple of feet tall and living unprotected outside year round other than a couple of the very coldest nights - it didn't come inside at all this winter.
       
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      • shiney

        shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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        Yours should soon get to that size. Ours was slow to start but is now growing exceptionally fast.

        What about white Hebe (low growing and small leaves) that flowers in July?
        P1290097.JPG

        or the tall version, long flowers and long leaves (salicifolia) - also July
        P1340386.JPG
         
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        • noisette47

          noisette47 Total Gardener

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          • Kristen

            Kristen Under gardener

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            Good point. We don't actually use Lemons much, whereas Limes are very popular. Around 6PM :)

            Dunno about in France, but Fruit Trees at Supermarket in UK is a pet hate of mine. Dirt cheap, poorly labelled (and no incentive to get right-label-on-right-bush), no information about rootstock - so a complete gambol for something that is going to take a few years to get established and then produce its price in fruit, or more, every year after that. People would be far better off paying twice as much (which still wont be a lot) getting a 99.9% guarantee of the variety and rootstock etc. and getting something that is actually suitable, and a variety that they actually enjoy eating!

            But narrowing the variety choice down ... that's the tricky bit. Hours of research :)
             
          • Kristen

            Kristen Under gardener

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            The Japanese Garden

            I lived in Japan for a couple of years, and having never seen a good Japanese garden outside of Japan, I vowed never to make one. So it is an "Oriental Inspired Stroll Garden" :)

            I'll take Wikipedia's definition, far better than any prose I could craft

            "Japanese gardens are traditional gardens whose designs are accompanied by Japanese aesthetics and philosophical ideas, avoid artificial ornamentation, and highlight the natural landscape. Plants and worn, aged materials are generally used by Japanese garden designers to suggest an ancient and faraway natural landscape, and to express the fragility of existence as well as time's unstoppable advance"

            The underlined bits are mine and pretty alien compared to western gardening styles. There is a risk that a Western audience won't appreciate it - why should they? they have none of the cultural grounding to do so. Thus I intend "Oriental themed" rather than "Faithfully Japanese" so that it is enjoyable to Western folk.

            And so it was, having not-built-a-Japanese-garden for 40 years :), that by complete chance we visited Compton Acres near Poole, Dorset. It has a number of themes, interesting in their own right; for example the Italian Garden would be a lovely place to have a wedding

            [​IMG]

            [​IMG]

            but we particularly loved the Japanese Garden "Oriental Inspired Stroll Garden" :)

            Wikipedia again :

            "Japanese Promenade or Stroll Gardens were meant to be seen by following a path clockwise around the lake from one carefully composed scene to another. These gardens used two techniques to provide interest: borrowed scenery, incorporating them into the view so the garden looked larger than it really was, and "hide-and-reveal", which used winding paths, fences, bamboo and buildings to hide the scenery so the visitor would not see it until he was at the best view point"

            Compton Acres is counterclockwise, so is mine :( I'm only now thinking about it (too late ...) and some thought would benefit whether you are walking South, into the sun, and whether the more dramatic views are facing North. Mine is entered from the North, facing South, and the main walk is directly South ... albeit with a final dramatic view to the North. Hmmm ...

            I also don't have any borrowed-views. Pancake flat here, and unlike e.g. East Ruston Old Vicarage I don't have a Church next door, nor a lighthouse in the distance

            [​IMG]
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            [​IMG]
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            So its all down to "hide-and-reveal" then, and Compton Acres did that rather well. Judicious planting that you walk around, which then reveals a new vista-line. Also awkward steps have you watching your step (Japanese also put fairly annoying stepping stones in the path to achieve same "concentrate on your feet" until the Reveal is ready) , and when you look back up the new view has been revealed.

            Compton Acres Japanese Garden is in an amphitheatre with trees surrounding. Its not a natural bowl (as I discovered having trudged up to the highest point to then find a precipitous view down onto the car park!)

            The entrance is at a high point coming in from SW corner. The path is narrow, between tall bushes, and meandering downhill towards the water level, providing only occasional glimpses of what lies ahead. That is what attracted me to it ...

            [​IMG]
            First glimpse ...

            [​IMG]
            Bigger Glimpse :)

            [​IMG]
            ... and finally a decent view, once down at Water Level

            ... I shot a video when I was there, just for my own reference. I suspect it will make you seasick :frown: but hopefully it documents the "hide and reveal" points, and if I can achieve anything approaching that I will be happy :)

            So ... what of my efforts?

            We started off by deciding to create a garden in the "bit down the end" that we had originally intended to be some trees and rough grass. We planted some hedges, to enclose each room. Rooms allocated arbitrary dimensions.

            [​IMG]
            These two rooms are the "Round garden" (to be) in the foreground, and the rectangular "Oriental Garden" beyond.

            [​IMG]
            Photo of the "Oriental Inspired Stroll Garden Amphitheatre"

            Think "Amphitheatre" :scratch::ideaIPB::hate-shocked::fingers crossed::runforhills::gaah: and eventually :yes::yay:

            So 6 years ago it looked like this

            [​IMG]

            Hedges were getting up. No plan what to do with it ... except that as it is flat around here we wanted some "contours". A Sunken Garden seemed the obvious choice ...

            ... and then we went to Compton Acres. Loved the Japanese Garden, but it was "huge", so didn't give it a second thought ... until I got home. I had a look on Google Earth, did a comparative view with my garden and, give or take, "it will fit" ... so the decision was made.

            4.5 years ago we made a start ...

            One thing I did give thought to was the reflection in the pond, when facing North, and I particularly liked the photos I had seen of the Horseshoe Bank of Azalea in Isabella Plantation, in Richmond Park, so a couple of years after the start of this project I dragged @shiney along for a look

            Actually the slick coffee-table book photo which had attracted me

            [​IMG]

            [​IMG]

            were nothing like as dramatic in the flesh, as it was completely in the shade under the trees, and much smaller than I had assumed, but it gave me design material including the reflection. Here's my photo

            [​IMG]

            and of the Azaleas and Rhododendrons in general

            [​IMG]
            [​IMG]

            [​IMG]

            I also went to Tatton Park to see the Japanese Garden there. Very authentic, and thus (I think) a lot of it lost on Westerners ... plus all the careful manicuring of ground and trees, which the Japanese do, has not been faithfully maintained, and hard to imagine how that could be achieved in Blighty. Certainly not on my budget ...

            One thing that caught my eye where was the distance between a plant and its reflection - even far-side-of-bridge, which might be something I can take advantage of as my plants are quite high up.

            [​IMG]

            [​IMG]

            Here's my sea-sickness documentary video of my visit to Compton Acres

             
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            • Kristen

              Kristen Under gardener

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              We had an extension built, which created a pile of Clay subsoil from the footings (Poplars nearby ... well "not really" but to the structural engineer they were ... far side of existing house ... clearly a huge risk that the roots would run under the existing house foundations and dislodge the new extension ... he also mis-identified a benign tree as a Willow ... so apparently we needed massively deep foundations ... gawd help anyone that wants to take them out in future! ... different story though, moving on ...)

              [​IMG]

              I hope it is bigger than it looks because the "muck away" quote was £8-grand :frown: So I "piled" it instead (same principle as my office!)

              We had also knocked down the old garage, to make way for extension, which provided brick and concrete rubble ... more muck-away cost ... more "piling" :)

              [​IMG]

              and 7 years earlier I had removed a concrete lined, cracked and leaking, pond

              [​IMG]

              which I had also "piled" round the back. So I repurposed that rubble too ... Mrs K happy :)

              [​IMG]

              I imagined using metal-cage Gabions to chuck all the rubble into and retain the clay subsoil. These at RHS Hyde Hall, all very neatly spiral-bound together and carefully rock-filled ... that really should have been a clue!

              [​IMG]

              So the plan was to put the Gabions round all 4 sides:

              [​IMG]

              Transported the rubble and cleared the topsoil [on right] (for later reuse and so that the Gabions tilted towards the intended clay banks a bit)

              [​IMG]

              Got the Gabions in the wheel barrow

              [​IMG]

              and erected
              [​IMG]

              and filled with rubble ... except ...
              [​IMG]

              Can't tip it. The cages just distort. And can't really "grab a bucketful" either. So basically had to handball them individually into the bucket, swing the bucket across and then place them individually into Gabions. Took longer than anticipated ... good job not on show as didn't look anything like as smart as at Hyde Hall, and I have no idea how they got all their spiral-connectors to line up perfectly ... mine don't!

              [​IMG]

              [​IMG]

              Experimented with 2nd layer in the corner
              [​IMG]
              not sufficiently stable, so need to wait until Subsoil backfilled before doing 2nd layer.

              Getting ahead of myself :whistle: I laid out the paths with some hose
              [​IMG]
               
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              • Kristen

                Kristen Under gardener

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                Scraped all the topsoil into the middle, for later.
                [​IMG]

                Started attacking the Subsoil pile ...
                [​IMG]

                and dumping next to Gabions.
                [​IMG]

                Upgraded the Wheel Barrow to a 4WD Articulated bigger-bucket model :)
                [​IMG]
                "The thing that separates the Men from the Boys is ... the size of their toys" :)

                Could then start filling the 2nd layer of Gabions
                [​IMG]

                [​IMG]

                [​IMG]

                Then carting more subsoil - it really was a big pile :)
                [​IMG]

                I want an Acid Bank at the edge of the pond, so to separate that from my Alkaline clay I created a Gabion wall
                [​IMG]

                Decided to fill it with Bricks, left over from the demolish garage, as they should be inert whereas I would expect Concrete spoil to release Calcium / Alkaline. Put drainage (and perforated pipe) under the Gabion so that ground water would be taken away (into the pond)
                [​IMG]

                I am only able to do this sort of work at the Start of Autumn, and it is a race against the Weather. Once all the clay gets wet it is game-over for a year
                [​IMG]

                So the entrance end was now 2M higher :)
                [​IMG]

                Same view, "before", at ground level
                [​IMG]
                 
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                  Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
                • Kristen

                  Kristen Under gardener

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                  So the following year :hate-shocked: ...

                  ... it looked at bit like this:

                  [​IMG]

                  "this end" was done, but overall not even got half way ...

                  Cleaned it up a bit and resumed work
                  [​IMG]

                  Spread topsoil. Assumed that the year that had elapsed was enough to allow the clay to have settled.
                  [​IMG]

                  Started creating the Acid Soil bank modelled on Isabella Plantation at Richmond Park
                  [​IMG]

                  The Gabion Brick dividing wall
                  [​IMG]

                  Acid soil added
                  [​IMG]

                  Bird's Eye view ... long way to go ...
                  [​IMG]

                  Then filled gabions on far right side, backfill with clay then topsoil
                  [​IMG]

                  and then dug a trench for Flow (Blue 2" MDPE) / Return (Brown 4") to the filtration area
                  [​IMG]
                  The plan is to create a Reed Bed, behind the Folly (in the distance), which is slightly higher and then the water can flow back under gravity, and that will also catch any rainfall onto the Folly roof.

                  As the Autumn Weather clamped in I had the (figure of eight) outline of the pond and the pipes roughly in place
                  [​IMG]

                  ... and a huge pile of rubble ready for the next phase
                  [​IMG]
                   
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                  • Perki

                    Perki Total Gardener

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                    Its been a very interesting read this morning Kristen.
                    I envy your Greenhouse its a beauty, maybe if I knock next door house down and maybe another it would fit in my garden :).

                    The not japenses garden ( the stroll garden :) ) is fascinating, huge amount a work you've done, i like how you've reused well really waste material. Is the entrance on the brick side ? so you walk up hill first then to look down into the ravine . And is the azelea just a inspiration? are is that the plan , its very short seasoned but has the wow factor.
                     
                  • Kristen

                    Kristen Under gardener

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                    I like that :) except very confusing as I have a Knot Garden too ... maybe I need more not-gardens :scratch:

                    My thinking is that Japanese gardens (of the sort that "suggests an ancient and faraway natural landscape, and to express the fragility of existence as well as time's unstoppable advance") basically don't have colour, just "form". But I like Azaleas and Rhododendrons, but being Alkaline here we can't grow them ... so this was an opportunity for an Acid Bank, and I think that Westerners would expect Japanese gardens to have colour - Azaleas in particular.

                    The Japanese do grow Azaleas ... hence why there is a whole branch of that family called Japanese Azaleas :dbgrtmb: but not so much in the "gardens". They do lovely, huge (depth-wise) masses of them, which are then pruned like a flat hedge/bank at low height - I have no idea how they reach the middle - they look like a pin-cushion of colour when in flower. The Kurume and Satsuki Azaleas lend themselves to that format as they don't mind being sheared hard.

                    This is the sort of thing I had in mind (the ones on the water's edge, but a kaleidoscope of colours)
                    [​IMG]
                    Rikugien Garden

                    I saw this on Monty Don's Japanese Gardens ... never been able t find a photo of it in flower though. You can only view from the "viewing building" itself ... rather than from within the garden, which i think I would find enormously frustrating!

                    [​IMG]
                    Adachi Museum

                    And then there is this sort of madness that the Japanese go in for :)

                    [​IMG]
                    Matsumoto

                    [​IMG]


                    [​IMG]
                    Narukawa Park

                    These are more the sort of thing that I remember seeing in Japan, not on this scale, but just the bushes planted between road and pavement (could be several metres across) which they then trimmed "flat" like this :

                    [​IMG]
                    Jindai Botanical Garden

                    [​IMG]

                    So back to the plot ...

                    Enter from the north Entrance, climb uphill through evergreen stuff, the path meanders and then goes from-left-side-to-right-side (walking West) with Azaleas on your left, and a "glimpse" between them of the pond, and then hairpin-left and down the steps (now facing East) with high banks of Azaleas on either side, and then hair-pin Right (facing West again) and now cross the pond. From that point onwards you are "in" the not-Japanese :heehee: part and everything will be more Japanese - Acers and the like, no more flowering stuff (although there will be a Pergola of Wisteria at the end)

                    My thought is that the evergreen / flowering stuff will be fairly humdrum (except when in flower :) ) and lull false sense of uninterestingness and then all of a sudden you come upon "glimpses" of the not-Japanese :heehee: garden until you are actually in it ... to retain the suspense.

                    I do have some Azalea (such as Haru no Sono) that flower much later than the rest, which will stretch the period of interest, but I haven't been able to find any more of that ilk. If anyone can suggest any that would be helpful :)
                     
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                    • Kristen

                      Kristen Under gardener

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                      And the year after that :hate-shocked::hate-shocked:

                      To speed things up :rolleyespink: did some work in the spring too

                      [​IMG]
                      Made a path from the entrance (at the North end), its intended to be quite steep (the watch-your-feet hide-and-reveal principle)
                      [​IMG]

                      [​IMG]
                      This is the path uphill from the entrance

                      .. and then down into the acid bank:
                      [​IMG]
                      and Azaleas (to right) that I bought and have been growing on for a couple of years. I "placed" them to get a feel for how it might look ... and how many more I would need

                      Doesn't look like Isabella Plantation ... yet! :
                      [​IMG]
                      but on the bright side the pond is full of a couple of inches of water :)

                      Some steps
                      [​IMG]

                      [​IMG]

                      [​IMG]

                      The purpose of the granite blocks is to give me an instant extra foot of height for the beds / plants behind - which "saves some width" as I don't have very much for the beds.

                      Then, in the traditional Autumn Construction period :) it was looking ... errmmm ... like this:
                      [​IMG]


                      So I dug the pond (not my finest idea ... as it turns out)
                      [​IMG]

                      [​IMG]

                      Left a raised bit for a bridge as hadn't decided how to "support" it

                      [​IMG]

                      At the near end I want a zig-zag bridge. I think they are neat, as the support for the far end of the board is shared with the start of the next one.

                      [​IMG]

                      Pond dug. Autumn Wet stops play.

                      I now have a spoil pile of clay almost as big as the one I started with :wallbanging:

                      I'm pondering how to build the bridge - any ideas?

                      The supports for the individual planks would be sitting on the pond floor, which will be lined. I have thought of putting a paving slab on the liner, and the "support leg" on that, to spread the weight. Also considered a "hidden" steel frame so that there are no legs; I could almost get a couple of RSJ H-Beams to span the width at a diagonal that hides them completely, but there would be quite a bit of over-hang on the boards. Maybe a steel plate on top of the H-beam, the shape of the boards, to stabilise it; I would like something that allows the wood to be easily replaced when it rots

                      But it all needs to be above the liner, but very close to the water level, and all that super-structure will add height, and not to be exposed if the water level drops e.g. 12" in Summer

                      Not mad about stepping stones (and I figure very hard to support a column on top of a liner)
                      [​IMG]

                      Stone would be nice but I suspect unaffordable, and a zig-zag still has the same support-problems
                      [​IMG]
                       
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                      • shiney

                        shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                        Some friends of ours have paving slabs for their pond that look quite effective. I don't know what base they used but I could ask. They may not know as they would have had it done by contractors.

                        P1020226(1).JPG

                        P1050562.JPG

                        P1050505.JPG

                        They did some clever matching of it through paths of slate/stone to make it look more like water
                        P1020290.JPG
                         
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                        • JWK

                          JWK Gardener

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                          How about casting a concrete support in situ, it would be fairly cheap to do, just the cost of shuttering and rebar. Sink in some concrete fixing bolts to attach the wooden boards at the same time.
                           
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                          • Kristen

                            Kristen Under gardener

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                            Looks lovely ... just down the road are they? :heehee:

                            Thanks Shiney. My question would be "Is the pond concrete or lined" and then if it turns out that it is lined "how do you mount a pillar on the liner, to support each stepping stone" ... without the thing tipping over ...

                            If it is concrete I reckon they would have cast the pillars into the foundation/base of the pond, which would be easy to do, and to reinforce. But I've lined mine ...

                            I had given that some thought John, but I assumed that it would "bow", what do you think? (I'll go out and measure it in a mo ...)

                            I have a steel fabricator nearby (you can't buy anything within short driving distance here, except for a massive reclaim yard and a steel fabricator!). I ought to ask him if he could make a frame ... I had thought rust etc. would be a problem, but perhaps? encasing it in concrete would solve that?
                             
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