This Week in the Garden: Starting the Terraces

The winter weather has returned to more normal conditions (meaning daytime temperatures of about 5°C / 40°F) but the three week mild spell, which saw temperatures consistently hitting about 12°C / 53°F, has caused many plants to start to bud.

However, there is snowfall and very cold weather forecast this weekend and into next week, so hopefully this won’t cause too much damage to the new growth….

That hasn’t stopped the garden. Here, Primula auricula ‘Alice Haysom’ has opened about 14 weeks too soon.

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Primula auricula ‘Alice Haysom’

It is quite an old cultivar, from the 1930s, and I picked it up a couple of months ago at a garage sale of all places!

It’s not the only early Primula – here P. vulgaris ‘Drumcliffe’ is budding next to a Kurume azalea in bloom:

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Primula vulgaris ‘Drumcliffe’ and Azalea

Another of the mixed bag of Jonquils has bloomed next to the Indica azalea which has been flowering since late June. Thankfully it isn’t a repeat of that paper-white from my last post:

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Narcissus & Azalea

The overgrown Hebe that I hacked back has started to flower:

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Unknown Hebe cultivar

And, wait for it…..roses!

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Rosa ‘Climbing Iceberg’

The middle of winter is a great time to do some of the heavier landscaping tasks, and with the soil not frozen this year, I’ve made a start on terracing part of the back-yard.

I have also set myself a challenge of doing my garden in the most environmentally sustainable way possible: that means severely limiting the materials brought on site and any waste sent off site. As you can imagine, digging the materials needed out of the ground well and truly takes its time :-).

Here is the progress shot of one of the smaller terraces:

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Dry-stone retaining wall

There are another couple of beds to add before this area is finished – a bed in front and two terraces behind, as you can see, I’ve already impatiently started transferring plants from my pot ghetto (but that’s for another post)….

My Chiropractor will be very rich once all of the terraces are done!

Happy Gardening 🙂

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38 thoughts on “This Week in the Garden: Starting the Terraces

    • It has been nice little break having this mild spell – even though the temperatures are colder than much of the UK, the sun is much warmer, so it certainly takes the edge off any cold

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  1. Pot ghetto, I am loving the term! Every gardener has one. My husband refers to mine as ‘your spare parts’, he is a car guy.
    I buy plants at garage sales as well, a lot of interesting stuff to be found – hopefully the seller knows what it is!

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    • Thanks – the terracing is fairly difficult, especially when the rocks are over 50kg! But it is necessary if you want to grow non-Mediterranean style plants (or else you have to water every day). Congratulations on the new block of land!

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    • I like your name for it much better 🙂
      I was determined not to have to mow & strim the patch of weeds on a 30 degree angle this summer, so I just had to bit the bullet and make a start…now I have to make sure that it’s finished by the end of winter, or I’ll be mowing around piles of rocks

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    • Some of those rocks are back-breaking, but the slope was just too difficult to simply plant out and hope for the best (unless I wanted succulents, which won’t survive the winter months). It’s so odd seeing the roses in bloom – I know it is a warm wall, but still….!

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  2. We have had the coldest weather (in Sidmouth at least) on record. -4C the other night! I bought and was given a lot of primula auricula’s but my (horrible) chooks dug them all up :(. I love them but might have to stick to keeping them in pots if I want to have them anywhere around my garden. Well done on sticking to what you have in your garden. If I was to do that, I would have rocks and thin silty soil. Lucky my next door neighbour has tonnes of oak leaves that I can have (I consider that we were once all in one 10 acre property so her property is pretty much “ours” 😉 ) and a local horse owner allows us to take away his yearly mountain of aged horse manure just before the bad weather sets in each year so we have the leaves and the manure up behind Sanctuary leaching their goodness out downhill into the long suffering veggie garden. Now I just have to work out how to get rid of the rats! Loving your winter garden 🙂

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    • Thanks! That is chilly for N. tassie – the mild spell ended abruptly at the start of July here, too. I can tell you, even though the weather is now ‘normal’ it feels chilly after being spoilt for weeks!!!!! You are so lucky to have a free source of leaves and manure…I am very jealous (although I think I will pass on the rats!) 🙂

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  3. Strange but true; we’re having signs of spring in Sydney too though we’re experiencing the coldest winter in 17 years. Like you I worry about new growth. Do you think the plants know more than we do? 🙂 My, you do work hard. My garden is one big ‘pot ghetto’ – it’s a container garden!

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    • It’s odd isn’t it? This is despite really cold weather since the start of the month. This weekend the forecast is for two days of snow, so hopefully I will be able to take a couple of happy snaps :-). But I think the plants do know more than us….the weather has been so up and down since April that ‘winter’ is anyone’s guess!

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      • We’ve had 2ºC nights and 22ºC days here so can we call it ‘winter’? Some say that we have six seasons rather than four; I’ve long ignored those talks and tend to my patch the way I see it. What else can I do? 🙂

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      • Gosh 2 – 22C is quite a range….and I think tending your patch as you see it is always the best option. There’s not too much point fretting over whether a particular plant is going to be happy with topsy-turvy weather 🙂

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  4. The terraces look really hard and backbreaking but how gratifying and exciting when they are done! It’s nice to have an outdoor project in the winter.. Even better that you are shoveling rocks and dirt and not snow:). Primulas and roses in the winter with snow in the forecast… That is very strange! Seems the odd weather patterns this year are in your half of the world too

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    • It will be great when this part of the garden is finished, I can then make a start at the very front of the property! I have been so surprised at how much came to life after only 3 weeks of comparative warmth – I guess it is because the chilly weather arrived in autumn, so the plants thought they were sufficiently rested 🙂

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  5. Terrace envy…If I ever do a structural overhall on this garden, it may get some low terracing, but I will need to locate that chiropractor first 😉 I love your garage sale find – and what a cheering sight in the middle of winter!!

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  6. What a challenge! And I hope you won’t be too knackered afterwards and still be able to enjoy the fruits of your hard labour. Would liek to see mire of the wall but can’t get zoom in. What kind of stone is it? This could set the tone for the colour scheme…

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    • Thanks Annette! It is going to be a challenge 🙂 I changed the file to let it get a zoom in, so you can see the stones. It’s the stone I dig out of my garden which is a mix of Sydney sandstone and ironstone with old fused gravels. In the photo it is still covered in the mud that I am using to fill the gaps to eventually plant up some of the crevices.
      Once I’ve cleaned that off it is an equal mixture of reddish brown, pale sandy coloured and orangey, honey coloured tones. A bit of a hodge-podge to be honest!

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    • Thanks, while it’s slower, it’s much more rewarding doing it one step at a time rather than just getting 30 tons of materials dropped off at the top of the driveway and a bob-cat to do all the rest 🙂

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  7. Lots of hard work there Matt, I’d call 60 feet long big, so imagine the rest are going to be pretty masive, well done on the work and using materials you have, and at least you are young and have time, I find it harder as I was oldish when I when I started, I like the rusty red colour, it will look better and better over the years as it weathers, and now you have the snow you can spend some of your time relaxing and planning your new border, Frances

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    • Thanks Frances! I’m not looking forward to the front one which is over 100′ long and needs a fair bit of earth shifted. You are right about the age thing, after spending several hours shifting earth and boulders my body sure moans and groans the next day especially when working in the cold air!

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    • Thanks – it is lovely to finally be able to make a start on all of this (although the weather has done its best to stop any progress!)
      Behind the larger face rocks are pieces of rubble, which will stop soil from leaching out. Also, because I’ve made them under 900mm high they don’t need mortar and can rely on the backward sloping angle to stand up indefinitely. That way I can fill some of the larger crevices with plants….so I am now hunting for sedums and houseleeks 🙂

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