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Secret garden

Moved into my house 6 months ago and been working all winter on house garden. Now starting on the old secret garden that is needing restored. Lots to do so questions galore. 
1) it is a woodland garden and paths marked out but just moss and weeds. Any cheap recommendations on what to use as path material?
2) There are three large Gunneras which have been under lots of rotting wet, smelly foliage. I cleared it all of and gave them air about a month ago. Will they recover & any tips on what I should do to help them?
3) An old pond was filled in with lots of soil and rubble, wood etc.. I found a newt yesterday. How can I help them survive without restoring the old pond this year as I have too much clearing first and on my own. 
4) There are some wonderful bushes & trees and was wondering if I scattered wild flower seeds for the bees and butterflies would they grow in such an environment? Lots of blue tits, coal tits, sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes and a very large pheasant so far!! loving it

Any tips would be very much appreciated. All daunting but a long term challenge.. ps - I have to climb over a wall with ladders as the previous owner blocked it off by pouring cement behind the gate & filling with soil. I have a major task to dig out!!


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,195
    The garden is huge and you can start by laying in some bark mulch along well trodden paths first. This can be a temporary measure until you decide exactly how you want your garden to be.

    The Gunnera just needs a nice layer of mulch around its base and pull away some of the gunk around it. Remember, it's survived with neglect which means, you have the correct type of surrounding micro-climate. Cutting back tall shrubs or trees may actually create too much exposure.

    Seeing newts etc means you already have the right conditions, probably damp soils and plenty of wild under-growth. Take your time and leave the pond another time. There is no need to put that as your priority. It seems the wilderness has created a haven for wild-life anyway.

    You can try sowing seeds around the areas, but you need to check they are for the right environment. Check your soil type and soil PH. Not all seeds will germinate due to wrong timing and also your soil type. 

    You could do a section each year. It's all about how much time you have, and whether you have a vision already with plans. Either way, it will be a lot of hard work, but hopefully rewarding too.
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    The garden is huge and you can start by laying in some bark mulch along well trodden paths first. This can be a temporary measure until you decide exactly how you want your garden to be.
    Once you decide where you want the paths to be (they do tend to position themselves as you wander around the garden!) lay down some porous ground membrane and put  bark/chippings on top of that. Keeps the weeds down.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,806
    Bearsden has changed since my day.
    Used to go there to visit a pal at university’s parents when we got a bit short of money for food.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • moragb1moragb1 Posts: 290
    Thanks Borderline. Great advice. I will try and set out a proper plan of work. xx love a challenge
  • moragb1moragb1 Posts: 290
    Hi Pansyface. The garden isn't in Bearsden but Isle of Cumbrae.  Hope you can afford food now ha ha xxx parents are handy sometimes
  • moragb1moragb1 Posts: 290
    Thanks DampGardenMan!! 
    The paths are mainly laid out already and wood around them which will partly need replaced. Just need to clear first and try and get the moss & weeds removed. I scraped some away and there is no membrane down. I like the idea of wood chippings which would look good in this type of area. x
  • moragb1moragb1 Posts: 290
    Do you think the newts will survive without water in a pond?? I am so happy that you think the Gunnera will come back. I will put a mulch down. Will post progress reports as I go along and get more thoughts if you don't mind sharing. Many thanks x
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,195
    edited April 2018
    I believe they can. It may be that there is a stream or another pond in the neigbourhood. I only see them when I help out at my mum's garden, and she gets loads and her garden. It is a damp garden and a little overgrown. It could be that they have travelled from behind a wall or another pond. I would not worry about trying to get the pond back and running. All in good time. It seems like a big project. 

    What I will say is be careful with foot protection. I made the classic mistake by wearing flip-flops (because it was in the middle of summer and very hot) whilst helping to edge my mum's lawn three years ago. I had the worst tick bite ever whilst doing that. My whole foot swelled like mad and it was scarred for months. Always wear boots or at least light coloured socks so you can see if they're clinging to your leg and ankle area. They hang around damp over-grown areas. Be warned.
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 3,896
    Sounds a wonderful project. As well as suiting a woodland garden, another advantage of bark chippings/mulch is that although the paths are set out for you, you may well want to change where they go or upgrade to pavers or some such as your ideas and the garden develops, in which case you can toss the chippings on the beds for mulch. 

    What sort of wildflowers were were you thinking of? If your garden is damp, as the newt might indicate, then a prairie-style or meadow mix might not suit, but bluebells, snowdrops, fritillaries, hellebores, wood anenomes etc, might. Also what sort of atmosphere you are thinking of - shady and mysterious, sunny woodland glade, the possibilities are endless... 

    I would say take your time and a season or two so you really get to know the garden and how it changes, it’s soil, microclimates, play of light etc before making major interventions. Took me 18 months to get a real feel for my new garden and formulate a plan, which seems a long time but I learnt so much during that period. I still have much to learn.

    Good luck and happy gardening!
  • moragb1moragb1 Posts: 290
    Oh borderline that must have been awful and absolute agony. They carry lime disease so you have been sorta lucky but not lucky!!! Will take care thanks. Glad the wee newts will survive. Absolutely passionate about wildlife and keen to make as much food especially for bees & butterflies. Thanks
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