Constructive destruction

by James Alexander-Sinclair

I've just spent a fair bit of time trashing and destroying parts of my garden.

Geranium, salvia psilostemon, allium  and nepeta growing in a borderI've just spent a fair bit of time trashing and destroying parts of my garden. I do this not out of irritation and frustration, nor have I temporarily lost control of my senses at the first sign of some half-decent weather. No, I do this because I care deeply for the well-being and happiness of my garden. Sometimes you've got to be cruel to be kind.

Two areas in particular have fallen prey to this. Firstly my small (but satisfying) orchard. There is a good range of trees here but, on this occasion, it's the apples and pears that have been the subject of my attentions. As we know, apple trees blossom picturesquely in spring. These flowers then develop into small fruits and then, in June, the tree shrugs and loses a fair few of these (this is called the 'June drop') leaving only the strongest. This is a self-preservation exercise to prevent the weight of the fruit snapping the branches. The remaining fruit then carry on growing and ripening until autumn.

There is, however, one extra thing that we can do for the trees. Around this time of year it's a good idea to thin the fruit again by hand to stop them bumping against each other - this can cause bruising, followed by rot, which can easily spread from one apple to its neighbour. Hence thinned apples are much better than unthinned apples.

The second area is a bit of border by my kitchen window that, a month ago, was overflowing with Geranium psilostemon, salvias, alliums and Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' (catmint). Sadly their moment is over and they're looking a bit scraggy round the edges. Usually I have no objections to a bit of scrag, but if they are cut back, the geraniums will put on some lush new growth and the salvias will flower again later in the summer. The allium seed heads look spectacular so I'll leave them unmolested.

So, I've made the decision to suffer a bit of emptiness in the short term in exchange for more voluptuousness during August. Will it work? I think so, but I'll report back to you in a few weeks. If you hear nothing then you can assume that I've made a ghastly mistake and am trying to hide the outcome. If nothing else, the prunings make good compost.

If you want to see what my garden looked like a month ago then tune in to Gardeners' World on BBC2 this Friday (1 August 2008).

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Gardeners' World Web User 31/07/2008 at 14:26

You should have a look at the Marshall's Seed Garden that was produced by Ian Dexter at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. The garden was created for kids with what kids want. All the best!

Gardeners' World Web User 31/07/2008 at 20:44

The best thing you can do is to go and see the people who are cultivating the nearest allotments to where the school is. They'll know the local soil and growing conditions and they'll also know all about what to grow as 'defensive' fencing! You might even get the odd offer of help with your project which you should accept! Once you know what to grow, the garden design should flow from that advice. Good luck and Good Gardening.

Gardeners' World Web User 01/08/2008 at 11:24

Funny ,i was feeling just the same about my small garden. Now i have the kick start to follow suit and chop my geraniums etc.

Gardeners' World Web User 02/08/2008 at 06:50

Thanks so much for your advice Steve and Brown97. I will definitely follow it. I had thought we would invite the children to offer ideas for the design and content - after all it's their garden. Great idea to check out local allotmenters. It's an exciting prospect so I want to get the design right and not too complicated! Thanks again. Keep the ideas coming!

Gardeners' World Web User 02/08/2008 at 21:15

I want to create a gravel garden but my garden slopes, would it be better to level it first? Its about 12ftx16ft.

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