After a couple of little niggly jobs, like cutting the grass back from my water butt slabs, I got on with digging the pond. I started using the spirit level and got the top edges even enough. The sand layer will straighten out any tiny discrepancies.

In order to know how deep and wide to make the  marginal shelf, I bought the first and main plants for the pond: Japanese sweet flag for the far corner; white magus for the front corner and front edge to help hide the liner; a yellow flag iris for the side, most likely to be joined by others in the bank; and a creeping jenny for the bank or shallow water.

The shape of the pond is almost done now. It’s deep enough in the middle, the shelves are the right depth, but I need to make more of a shelf at the front right hand side, so there’s room for a plant. I also need to check that the water level hits correctly from left to right.

I’ll test with a scrap of plastic to see how easily it fits into the shape I’ve made – the narrow deepest point particularly.


I went to mow this afternoon as it will pour with rain tomorrow afternoon. The frost that we’d had the night before last turned out to have killed off the zinnias, marigolds, nasturtiums and volunteer tomato. The mustard was untouched though.

So after a mow on 2, I pulled up all the frosted plants and cut them up for the compost bin. I did a handful of easy weeding in the newly empty areas and then sowed the mustard. The green manure project is almost done – some more could fit if the root vegetables clear a row (maybe the beetroot) but otherwise enough is covered. I just hope there’s still time for more germination although we’re halfway through October. It’ll be a bit warmer for the rest of the week, but still in the teens, not the twenties.

While chopping things up at the compost heap I spotted an ichneumon beast with an ovipositor meddling on my bee hotel (maybe Ephialtes manifestator). I documented it and then shooed it away.


I did the edging at last, which makes the plot look much nicer. In part because the grass was still dewy in the shaded areas, I did it in bits, mixed with other jobs. I made a small start on apple pruning, removing a few obvious overlaps, some canker and a couple of small dead branches. The canker is a new appearance this year. Two apples came home as they were on a long, hanging branch that’s now gone.

The first bit of weeding in the left border has now been done, but I realised I’m never going to win over the grass. So I added a length of the really old wavy edging to boundary from where the pond ends to where the physostegia no longer has a hole and is back against the fence. I pinned it in place and then built up the soil level a bit with pond soil. In the weeded gap along the fence I added a few verbena plants from the nursery.

Among all gradual tidying (the compost heap is heaving!) I pulled up the dead corn cockles and spread the remaining seed all along the back of the border. They’re attractive flowers and make good upright structure when they’re dead.

I did some more digging for the pond and have started to pile soil on Bed 1. I’ve gone about a foot down in the centre and have reached the clay subsoil, which is hideously hard. One good thing is that although I have an eye on not digging out what I shouldn’t (eg for shelves), I can tell from where I’ve stood on the shore that it’ll be possible to rebuild, mould and compact wherever needed.


There was another break-in early this morning. Nothing was taken, but they cut through the hasp rather than the padlock (which they took). The general expectation is that they could well return, so I’m taking my big tools and a few new hand tools back and forth for now. The door is in its tight shove mode, so is staying shut fine on its own.

We put the tomato supports away behind the shed (I shouldn’t have undone the cylinders) and I weeded Bed 6, meaning that the robin promptly arrived to help. That bed is now sown with mustard.

The earliest sown mustard is doing really well. It may or may not be sown too densely, but it doesn’t seem to mind so far. Later beds are gradually coming to life and I’m sowing spaces as they come free. The marigolds can all stay. When the frost kills them I might just leave them in place to rot more and be a habitat. I think it’s unlikely they’d self-sow.

Mum pulled down all the rest of the everlasting pea at the back and I chopped that up for the compost heap.

I weeded under the apple tree and only got my hair caught a few times. I added a thick layer of bark under the tree, leaving just a clump of foxgloves that need to be saved – possibly for the pond. All these foxglove volunteers that have appeared this autumn could be very helpful edging.

I added the newly purchased plants to the bug hotel: two pink phlox and a thyme, which should spread nicely over the top. Mum added a volunteer pansy she found to the pot and I added a volunteer foxglove. I also threw a few borage seeds into the corner to see if they’ll grow there behind the elder.

The trellis bed needs major attention, but there’s a stout toadflax that’s looking very nice on its second flowering. I must have cut it just the right way. So I need to not pull them all up!


Partly in order to house some of the earth from the pond excavations, I dismantled some of the bug hotel and rebuilt it as a planter. About halfway done it opened up into empty space I’d left, which meant much less work than expected. I poured in a few buckets of the dry earth and rebuilt the top, making it look much less lopsided. The mint will be back in the spring and meanwhile there’s lots of detritus on the ground for things to hide in.

I carried on digging, clearing a few more plants. The gladioli are getting ever closer to flowering, so they’re staying for the moment at least. They’d be quite pretty, but possibly a pain to work around.

I started digging down and deposited buckets and buckets of soil at the base of the helianthus, the mint and the elder. More will go at the back of the boundaries, but some weeding needs to be done first. I also carried a few buckets out to fill holes in the car park. More could help build up the low side of the track too, though it could do with being damper.


On a trip to Wyevale to get more white mustard seed, I did some more stone research. It looks like I’ll be using Scottish cobbles and pebbles from Brookside and there’s a nice bag of quartzite pea 20mm stones at Wyevale that could be useful for filling in non-tessellating holes.

I did more digging in two shifts today and all but cleared the corner. The big clump of grass in the far corner had grown across the chicken wire, but I managed to pull most of it out. That’s how so many clumps of grass have become entrenched further down the boundary. I don’t foresee being able to remove all those though.

The nursery has grown to include verbenas and lupins. I’ve only kept the best clumps of verbena and hope to make the verbena parts of the bed somewhat denser for a bit of coverage. The lupins may or may not survive as they have tap roots. If they do, I’ll find space for them in other boundaries.


I’ve made a start on clearing the corner and it’s coming up surprisingly easily. It’s pretty dry soil, but hasn’t turned into concrete. Clearly a challenging piece of ground to cultivate anyway. I’ve started a nursery for the plants that I’m saving for possible moving. My salvias and foxgloves aren’t in the best shape, but maybe I can bring them back to life in better soil.

The helianthus often gets in the way of my panorama photos, so I combined a helpful trim with adding some stalks to my posy. I need to find out if it would benefit from deadheading at all.


Measuring up for plotting and planning. The bug hotel is going to be renovated to hold a deeper plant holder on the right hand side … and Plum Corner is going to become Pond Corner.



More clearing up. I cut up lots of the everlasting pea on the back fence and added it to the compost heap. I also pulled up tomatoes, which were split between the compost and rubbish as there were some signs of blight. I’ve probably filled my compost with plenty of tomato seed for future volunteers.

I picked the last cucumber and took down the wigwam. I also cut the last gourds of all sizes. With Bed 1 empty but for a few weeds, I raked up all the straw and added it to the compost too. I’ve left an amount of the small bits to add to the organic material in the bed.

The mustard is coming up well where it’s been sown. I need to get the weeds out of Bed 1 and get that sown too.