Friday, May 7, 2021

It's time to clean the slope

 When you live on the hill most of the garden is one big slope. There is almost no flat surface and they need to be created artificially. Artificial flat parts usually come with retaining walls and can be a real problem to decorate. Choosing the right plants for this type of garden can take a long time and be filled with errors and new tries so they mostly get turned into a grassy slope. Some of us try for years.

My garden is completely covered in slopes. It might not seem like it in the photos, but the only flat area in my whole yard is my front yard which has been flattened so that we could have a flat entrance. The rest of the yard is a big slope. Even the house has a ground floor build into a hill. On the front side of the yard, we have a normal 2 story house, but on the backside of the yard, it's actually a 3 story house with another floor hidden. We had to build a retaining wall to stop the ground from washing down right under the ground floor. 

This retaining wall and the slope located under and above the wall have been one of the parts of my garden that are really difficult to maintain. I have tried many different approaches and failed miserably many times. The slope is very big and the ground contains lots of stones, bricks and other things from the build so there's not too much real soil in it. Also, no natural are plants growing here and most of the plants are actually weeds. The grass refuses to grow here. Mowing can be done only with a garden trimmer and it is a real struggle.

After having this part as a normal weedy meadow for ages I decided to turn it into a cottage garden. I've sown columbines, Hesperis, forget-me-nots, wallflowers, and foxgloves. It worked for a year or two but then the old problem appeared.

All of these plants refuse to self-seed in our area. I can't get them to grow longer than their life period. The plants I sow live for a couple of years and then the amount starts to thin out. After a couple of years, there are almost none left. I was able to maintain the cottage look for a couple of years, but due to some problems and being busy with the house renovations I neglected this part of the garden and it started to look miserable. 

So this year I finally decided to clean this part of the garden and do something about it. I decided to give up on a cottage look and decided to go with a mix of ground covering/wild meadow plants. I would like to make a slope that doesn't need to be mowed and can maintain itself.
So this spring I bought a bunch of ground covering plants, lavender, rosemary, and a few small shrubs. 

The slope started to look better as soon as I've added some new soil and plants.

Most plants have survived the cold spring we had and are growing nicely. The sloped part of the garden is still a bit messy and covered in weeds and will have to look like this until the plants start to get bigger. The problem with my slope is that as soon as I pull out a weed the soil starts to crumble and it exposes the roots of my plants and they start to dry up. So I have to be very careful about deciding how much I can remove. Right now while the plants are small I remove only the weeds directly around the new plants. Every week I clean a bit more around them to let them breathe but leave enough not to make the soil move. 

For now, I decided not to remove the leftover columbines and Hesperis, there's not much left so I hope I will be able to incorporate the leftover plants in the new look. 

I'm hoping the new plants will grow as big as one of my old flower carpets. Periwinkles have been doing such a great job in covering the part of the slope. We'll see if the rest of the plants will do the same.

I also decided to make a new border around the plants to give it a definition. I had some old tile borders that were just thrown in the basement so I started to make a new border. I did the first part this week and I have to say that I'm pleased with the way it looks. It's not anything fancy but once I finish with it it should give the slope a real garden feel. 

I'm planning to continue the border all the way to the other side of the garden and probably use white gravel to make nice paths in front of the new border. This should also control the weeds and give the garden more definition. But this will have to wait for now. Right now I'm happy with a couple of new plants and a new border. 

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