Six on Saturday: the ever-shrinking patio (6 April 2019)

It’s been a funny old week weatherwise. It’s been sunny one minute, overcast the next. There’s been rain, wind, the occasional hail shower and more rain. And boy has it been nippy. Still, at least we didn’t have snow down these ‘ere parts. Despite the weather I’ve been making the most of the lighter evenings now that the clocks have gone forward, pottering in the garden after work and tidying this, moving that, cursing the squabbling wood pigeons that have knocked over a pot of newly sown Silene ‘Pink Pirouette’, and surveying the freshly emerging greeny leafyness of our little Eden. And that leads me to my first SoS…

1. A hydrangea called Miss Belgium, that for some reason makes me think of a Horticultural beauty contest. I’d fancied a hydrangea for a while and we bought Miss B back in the Autumn of 2017. She’s supposed to be a compact variety and so ideal for a small garden. Alas, she didn’t flower last year. I have a feeling this was down to being dug up and temporarily plonked in a pot last June in order to protect her from the builders. She’s looking good at the moment with her new fresh foliage. Fingers crossed she flowers this year.

2. It’s been almost six years since the blue shed was first painted and it was beginning to look a little scruffy, particularly when compared to the swanky new shed that was put up last October. I spent Sunday afternoon giving it a new lick of paint and now it positively dazzles in the evening light.

3. From blue sheds to bluey-lilac forget-me-nots. These have started to put on a growth spurt. I sowed a packet of mixed colours (blue, white and pink) soon after we moved here in 2012. Little did I know they would take over the garden, well the blue ones anyway. They’ve been heavily weeded and repositioned here and there but I wouldn’t be without them.

4. The patio reduction has continued. Last year it looked like this…

In January I took up 4 slabs…

A week or so later I took up another two and vowed that was it. No more slabs were going to be taken up. Ever.

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January 2018 (phase 2)

And yet… Everyday over the past couple of months I’ve been studying the patio and thinking “should I take up a few more?” The gardening angel on my right shoulder has advised against such a course of action telling me we need room to easily navigate the patio without falling head-first into the herbaceous border, that plants will encroach onto it and soften the edges and that space is needed for pots. The gardening devil on my left shoulder simply shrugs and says “More soil, more plants”.

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January 2018 (phase 2)

On Tuesday evening I surveyed the patio from all angels… I mean angles…, mallet, chisel and pick-axe at the ready. The gardening angel on my right shoulder hadn’t given up. “No matter how many slabs you pull up you know you’ll want to pull up more and in reality how much more planting space are you really creating? Don’t do it. Be content with what you’ve got.” The gardening devil on my left shoulder simply rolled it’s eyes and said “Yes, yes, yadda, yadda. More soil, more plants”. So I took up one slab and then deliberated whether to take up another one. Surely just one more wouldn’t hurt and besides it was already a bit loose.

At this point my wife came out and sensibly suggested I take some more time to think it through. I nodded solemnly. Wise words. I looked at the patio again. Yes, it wouldn’t hurt to think about this some more. There was no need to rush.

A minute later I’d removed the other slab, my wife had given me ‘the look’ and I’d added another stepping stone. Am I finally happy? Well, yes and no. I’m still wondering whether or not I should remove one more, that corner one that stops the patio looking L-shaped. I’m going to be good though and wait and see how the plants do first. Truly I am.

5. When I took up the first lot of patio slabs in January I ended up with a hefty bit of rock-hard concrete and masonry upon which the original brick edging had been laid. It weighed a ton and was unbashable so I buried it under the two stepping-stones across the new bed. Out of sight, out of mind.

And yet it wasn’t. I knew it was there and it bothered me. So when I took up a few more paving stones a couple of weeks later, I dug it up and decided to add it to the base of part of the ramshackle don’t-sneeze-as-it-will-probably-fall-down mini drystone wall that lines the bottom of the back fence (made up of all the cement splodges chipped off the bottom of paving stones that were taken up to create the back border in 2013, and the small bed behind the swing seat last Spring). On Monday, in order to prettify things a bit, I created a planting pocket within the ‘wall’ and put in a new Aubrieta ‘Deep Purple’. I’m hoping it will ‘flow’ down the rubble in time.

6. And finally… the buds of the Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’ are developing nicely. In a few weeks we’ll be treated to some gloriously scented white flowers.

And they were my Six on Saturday. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

26 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: the ever-shrinking patio (6 April 2019)

  1. The swing seat is clearly just somewhere else to put pots. If you’re not sitting on it now enjoying the Coronilla it may as well go, and all the slabs. I don’t have a gardening angel, just loads of devils. You’ll never win, more soil = more plants, more paving = more pots = more plants. No such thing as too many plants, ask anyone.

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    1. The pots were moved and I sat on the swing seat this afternoon and enjoyed the scent of the Coronilla! The swing seat stays. It gave me time to ponder whether to take up any more. I think I may name my gardening devil Jim!

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  2. Your “deep purple” brights this area. It was a good idea to put it there. About the hydrangea it’s weird because it looks healthy and if there is no frost now, the buds at the top of each stem should give you flowers … that’s how mine do it.

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    1. And once on the swing seat if you got enough momentum, swinging back and forth, you might be able to leap off it and across the border. We could judge each other’s landing technique. Hmm…

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  3. Plant lots of thyme and chamomile under the swing, where you remove odd slabs? One man’s garden devil could be his angel in disguise. I enjoyed reading about your ‘inner’ trials.

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    1. Thatcs a good idea. I do like thyme and chamomile. However, apart from one slab I’m still not sure about, I think the rest will stay. I might revisit the lawn!

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  4. I have a similar discussion with myself over the lawn. But a patio is useful for sitting out with a G&T on a nice evening admiring the garden. Where are you going to put the swing if you remove any more paving slabs? I think Jim might have the right idea.

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    1. The swing seat is staying otherwise I may be found under what’s left of the patio (which is still quite a lot!) I’ve been eyeing that corner slab next to the new stepping stone today whilst sat on the swing seat. Tried putting a pot on it and it looked okay but I think the slab’s days might be numbered.

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    1. Yes the viburnum is a small one and is now 6 years old. It gets a slight trim each year but has stayed true to its name. Quite tricky to get hold of apparently. We were lucky. Forget-me-nots are a lovely blue.

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  5. I love your humour 🙂 Now you’ve taken up most of the slaps where are you going to put all your tubs? AND, you do realise that area would make a lovely’trendy’ gin corner.

    I thought it was only me who had a devil and an angel. oh, and my OH nags me constantly… he is the garden gremlin: why are you moving that when you only planted it last week.

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    1. I’m the nag in our house! My OH doesn’t get garden Feng Shui or House Feng Shui.

      I keep meaning to try gin minus the tonic as I think it’s the tonic I’m not keen on. Maybe some lemonade would work better with it. There are still enough slabs for the odd pot of three!

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  6. I’m not sure this will help but I visited a friend’s garden this week and it was crammed with plants and just tiny paths and stepping stones. All pretence at patios had gone, apart from a bit by the house. They are real plant people and just want more plants. As long as you can get to the swing seat you’re OK to remove more I’d day. Or is the swing seat in danger too? Anyway, I love your stone wall idea. I grew some aubretia from seed very easily and they came up it all colours of pink, purple and blue so you could have a lovely waterfall of colour there.

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    1. Oh the swing seat will never go! It was the first thing we purchased and put up when we moved here. I like a bit of patio but but there was too much. I’m trying to create a bit of garden next to the swing seat, separated from the lawn – a kind of slightly hidden garden.

      I love the idea of tiny paths and stepping stones everywhere, exploring the garden. Sounds very nice indeed.

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  7. Brilliant, I know that all-too-easily-lost battle only too well. I also know “the look”. Always remember, there’s no such thing as too many plants. It’ll look fab, you’ve done absolutely the right thing!

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  8. I’m with the no slabs and tiny path devils. Less in pots and more in the ground is my motto, watering pots last summer was never ending!! Looking at the garden and battling those demons is also never ending!!

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