Clearing and replanting a flower bed

img_8617There are certain garden jobs that nag at us every time we pass by but which we keep putting off because they seem too big to tackle. My front garden is a case in point. I know what I want to do, it’s just that making the time for it never seems possible. Yesterday, I made a start! I spent a joyful hour clearing a small overgrown patch and although the whole bed is overdue digging out and replanting, the small patch is a definite start. While the sun shines, it’s easy work.

When we moved here, the front garden was the only place I could clear quickly of ground-elder and brambles to create a place to store some precious plants I’d brought with me that I would move eventually to the back garden. Four years later and the back garden was ready for planting. Two years after that, I’m finally ready to transfer those precious plants from the front to the back. Here’s the patch that needs attention.



There’s a pleasant method to clearing and preparing soil for planting. In this case, there were a couple of overgrown thugs in the patch I decided to tackle that I wanted to dig out. The bulky geranium has smothered a peony I’d like to keep and the tall grass is a weed that blows in from next door on a  regular basis. Although I enjoy it’s architecture, it is a brute of the garden and certainly ‘wrong plant, wrong place’ when it comes to my tiny front garden. So out they come.




With the sun on my back it is a pleasant task to then find the edge of the bed again and start sifting through the soil, removing debris and putting bulbs to one side for replanting later.




I’m on the lookout for ground elder. It’s tell-tale, brittle white roots thread only a few centimeters under the surface where they’re unimpeded and are easy to find. This bed was a mass of ground elder, snap-dragon, toadflax, arum lily and bramble when I first dug it over six or seven years ago. This little patch is pleasingly clear.



The soil is also delightfully friable and very workable. What a difference from the grey, rubbly clay of those first plantings. Adding organic matter to begin with and top dressing with leaf-mold in some subsequent years has really paid off. So has planting an initial range of thugs – japanese anemone, day-lillies, hardy border geranium, houtyanna, lily of the valley to name but a few. These strong, root travelling beauties have helped break up the soil and they colonised the space quickly, suppressing the growth of unwanted weeds. It has worked. The soil is now ready for more delicate planting and so am I. The brutes can be rehoused and a new type of garden can emerge. I’m looking forward to planting it this winter.







Bluebell bulbs dug in and covered. Next step tulips, iris and poppies!