The end of October is our anniversary of moving to Mapleton, and this year we celebrate three years in this beautiful part of the country! Many changes and improvements have been made to the house and garden in those three years, and while reflecting on these changes, I decided to use ‘changes’ as this weeks Six on Saturday theme.
1. Taming the rampant vegetation. Our first major project in the garden involved removing the Black Eyed Susan vine, Thunbergia alata, that had enthusiastically taken over one side of the back garden! Under it we found an old composter, an old bread tin, a tap, and sheds! Once that was cleared we discovered that the large Tibouchina tree had strong roots that we wrapping their way around our concrete water tanks. That resulted in the second project!
2. Tree removal. The Tibouchina mentioned above had to be removed to prevent any damage to our precious rainwater tanks. These rainwater tanks hold our household water supply. A few tall palms needed to be removed for safety reasons, as their large fronds and fruit can do a lot of damage when they fall. A year or so later we hired another contractor to remove the large golden cane palms from the front and side gardens. These palms impeded water flow along the water easement. Once they were removed there was a lot more space available to create garden beds.
3. Drainage from the garden. During our first year in Mapleton it rained a lot! Parts of the garden were flooded and the lawn became extremely soggy and slippery due to the wet clay. While we knew about the water easement, we did not realise that there was an inlet to a stormwater drain which runs under and at right angles to our garden. We discovered the inlet under a pile of accumulated leaf litter, twigs and stones. This inlet is in the middle at the bottom border and receives water from both sides of the garden.
4. The water easement. One of the requirements of having a water easement through the property is that it should not be built over and should be kept clear to prevent any restriction to the flow of water down the easement. The golden cane palms had blocked the flow of water, and once they were removed we marked out the water course and decided that instead of planting it to lawn, we should make a feature of it. We discussed and designed the area, and constructed the dry riverbed in sections. The water course was shaped (swaled) and lined with weed matting to prevent lawn and weeds from growing through. The first stage extended from the driveway to the middle garden path. We lined the riverbed with a half scoop (1/4 cubic metre) of river pebbles. Larger stones were placed randomly along the edges of the riverbed. The riverbed was continued the width of the garden down to an underground pipe that leads down to the back garden. The final section of the riverbed in the front garden still needs to be completed. Mr S constructed a simple bridge over the riverbed for the smaller path leading to the road.
5. Garden beds. Once we decided to remove all the lawn from the front garden, we had to create pathways and garden beds. As the soil is clay, we brought in mushroom compost, horse manure, cow manure and mulch to add to the garden beds to improve the quality of the soil. One of our friends was installing a larger underground waste tank and he offered us 4 cubic metres of lovely red soil. This ended up in a huge pile on the driveway, and was gradually whittled down over many months as we slowly established the new garden beds. Most of the work was done during the winter months when it was cool.
6. The pathways. We bought loads of bricks and retaining blocks, all second hand, to use to edge the garden beds. We also bought a couple of loads of hardwood wood chip to try and create a more natural look for the pathways. All the projects involved a lot of hard work over a long period, but we thoroughly enjoyed creating the garden ourselves. We are looking forward to the taller shrubs and trees maturing and creating small microclimates which are shadier and cooler.
Next week I plan to continue the theme of ‘changes’ by using the ‘image compare’ feature of WordPress. Until then, I hope it is a good gardening week for all. Please head over to The Propagator blog to see what gardeners in other parts of the world are doing.