Friday, 6 December 2013

The Fernery

Here's a novel use for a compost heap: as a temporary nursery for ferns.

"Why?" you ask.

Well, my client needs to have some work done on the retaining wall of the Road Bank - it's crumbled away to nothing, which means the slope is now encroaching upon the path, plus it looks terribly tatty, and worst of all, it makes it very difficult for me to clamber up the slope to weed it, as without a "stop" at the bottom, the soil tends to crumble and tumble down. Which makes me reluctant to attempt to climb up it, which means it doesn't get weeded, thus making it look even worse.

So I have a vested interest, as a tatty weedy section of the garden reflects badly on me: and to be honest with you, I'm not that keen on slithering around on crumbly banks, so I am all in favour of a bit of remedial work.

Thankfully it's been agreed that the lower level will have to be mended, and that means getting in some hard landscapers, ie builders.

Knowing what normally happens when builders set foot in a garden (please imagine me rolling my eyes at this point) I suggested that we (and when I say "we", you know that I mean "I") dig out the ferns and hellebores from the crumbling edge, keeping them safe somewhere else in the garden, so that we can replace them after the workmen have gone.

With this in mind, I carefully lifted as many of them as I could, and then came the problem of finding somewhere for them to live over the next few weeks.

All the beds are full...

Aha! I can heel them in to the compost heap!

Not as daft as it sounds - the compost heap is massive, it's four foot across, six foot long and at least three feet deep in thick, compacted, wonderful, compost.  It will take me weeks, possibly months to dig it all out and spread it on the garden - I'm only there one morning a week, after all - so it will be the perfect home for the plants, until we are ready to put them back in place.

Here is what they looked like this week, having been there for three weeks:

They are not only surviving there, they are actually starting to flourish!

I shouldn't be surprised, of course: compost is the stuff that we spread on the garden to encourage the plants to grow.  I can only imagine that these plants think they have died and gone to plant heaven, with a whole compost heap to feed on!

Typically, there has been no sign of the builder since I lifted these plants, and I somehow doubt that he will come before Christmas now, but it doesn't matter: the plants are fine, and they can stay there until I am ready to move them again.

Best of all, when I replant them, I can spread them a little more evenly along the bank, to get better coverage - I'm actually rather looking forward to it!

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