A Winter Project and a Wildlife Friendly Experiment.

When we purchased the house, I designed the garden and the rear of the main border, now named the blue border, was planted with climbing roses, trained to rope swags. Unfortunately, the rope soon rotted and was replaced with trellis. Now several years later the trellis along with some of the posts required replacing this winter.  With a coil of blue rope already in stock, I have gone back to plan A. The posts have been replaced, painted to match the colour scheme and furnished with new fittings. I also took the opportunity to remove two of the oldest roses. They came with us from our previous garden and there are still two identical ones elsewhere in the garden. Managing so many vigorous rambling/climbing rose was becoming quite hard work. (Old age, mine not the roses).  These will be replaced with clematis, joining some already there.

You may notice, in the picture above, lots of plant debris on the garden. I recently read an article about the Melinium Garden at Pentsthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk, which we had visited in 2012. This garden was designed by Piet Oudolf, the internationally famous dutch nurseryman and garden designer, known for his prairie style planting. Historically, the many perennials and grasses were not cut down in the garden until February, to provide winter shelter for insects, and then removed to giant compost heaps.  According to the article, they now cut it all down in small bites, or pieces, leaving it on the ground as a mulch, to continue providing homes for the wildlife.

While I do not claim this border to be ‘prairie planting’, it does contain perennials and grasses so I decided to experiment with cutting it down in small bites, leaving it as a mulch. I did this using garden shears if you had more to do you could use a hedge cutter (Mine has broken).

I will add my usual mulch on top of this in March, I do it then to smother the chickweed, which germinates here around that time. It will be interesting to see how it develops, I don’t think it will suit the tidy gardener. However, we are constantly being advised that as gardeners we should be a little more untidy to help the wildlife.

I will record progress with photos and publish them later in the year.

Have you tried this in your garden?

14 thoughts on “A Winter Project and a Wildlife Friendly Experiment.

  1. The blue is quite striking and it will be interesting to see how it looks when covered in climbing flowers. Sad about the rose trees you had to dig out. Tina

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  2. The blue trellis is very attractive, Brian. I was an early adopter of the ‘messy’ garden style and was amazed at the bounce in beneficial insects and butterflies, and up the food chain. You’re right, tidy gardeners think it a mess (I once overheard a walker tell her companion that ‘They need a goat!” lol), but I am a devoted naturalist and let other folks have their opinions.

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    1. Traditions are hard to break, but with the environment problems the world has, things are moving fast. I have also been a fan of no dig but it is difficult to persuade people of the benefits.

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      1. Yes, the no dig guru, Charles Downing, in the uk, recommends laying cardboard onto grass, covers it with homemade compost and the plants into it, adding more compost each year.

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  3. I’m not sure that leaving the debris from perennials chopped on the border would work so well in our garden. It is wide and not too deep so everything is visible from the house. I’m a bit of a control freak too and it would look too messy for me. At our last house we had about an acre to garden in different ways; a formal garden, an orchard and what we called the quarry garden. The house was a centuries old farm and the quarry garden was started over what was the old quarry for the stone for the farm buildings. We tried to establish a prairie garden there and it was very successful. The grasses and perennials were just strimmed and left. There is a fine balance between gardening for wildlife and aesthetics. I will be interested to see yours in the summer

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  4. Looks great! I agree about the roses, I find them a lot of work and I leave them to Kourosh who loves them more than me. I think we have to get used to the debris and appreciate seeing the wrens etc. more. I did a lot of raking of dead leaves in the autumn of 2018 and I found that when put on borders and beds they stifled the weeds. I’d have like to have done more in 2019 but rain stopped play most of the time but the 2018 mulch on beds is still working. I do get a lot of leaves and perhaps this works particularly well with our dry summers. Amelia

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  5. I am going to try and do the same kind of mulching all through the summer for moisture retention Brian. We will need our shredder though, which I hate using as it is so noisy! I love the blue rope in your clematis garden. 🙂

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  6. Great to have a project and be in the garden long enough to revitalise the same area. It is looking very smart now, and pleased you had the blue rope to hand.

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  7. A good job well done Brian and an instant improvement! What are the shorter posts for? I am not sure I woukd go down PO’s line with the mulching, but it would be interesting to hear how you get on

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