Usually I chip a hole in the clay - always hard to do, and tends to fracture the face of the slope - and stuff it with decent compost before ramming in the plant. I try to make a "lip" to catch the rain, as the plants rarely get watered once planted, poor things!
Last week I was presented with three small shrubs and asked to get them established way, way up one of the bank: not an easy job, but, hey! I like a challenge.
Last year I planted a couple of buddliea on another part of the slope, and as an experiment I had wedged a piece of timber across the slope for one of them, making a sort of miniature terrace, intending to see if the terraced plant did better than the unterraced one.
Surprise surprise, it did.
So for these little shrubs, I thought I'd take that idea and formalise it.
I then dug a hole above the wood into the chalk, using the rough lumpy 'orrible "soil" to pack in at the bottom of the inside of the new terrace - hopefully, to hold in any rainwater.
Then I heaved a bucket full of compost up, tipped it in, mixed it round, firmed it down a bit, inserted the plant, and levelled it off.
Here is the second one, above and to one side of the first one: exactly the same.
This gives you some idea of the slope - it really is one-in-one, and I have to scramble up, heart in mouth, on my hands and knees.
I then have to brace myself like one of those mad free-climbers, while hammering in the posts.
Don't even ask how about how I get down - here's a clue, it's not graceful, and it involves sliding on my bottom.
I told the Client that I was intending to get a rustic, artfully non-level look to the boards and pegs: to be in keeping with the casual nature of this bank, and to avoid introducing a jarring note of military precision.
All right, I admit it, this was the best I could manage while clinging to the slope!
I managed to get half a bucketful of water up there - yes, it was a full bucket when I started the climb - to give them a head start, and now they have been left to their own devices to see how they survive the experience.
I shall report back in due course!
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