New Rockery

The previous occupants of my French garden were planning to create a pond but stalled after realising how expensive the pond liner would be. That left me with a huge hole, 5 metres by 3 approximately. Since April I have been filling the hole with all the garden waste that I have created by chopping and hacking, pruning and weeding. As well as virtually filling the hole I have made three huge compost heaps as well so no need to worry about keeping the compost. 

I am going to continue to fill this hole right up until the end of autumn I am sure. Now to my plan - I thought about covering the hole with cardboard and a strong polythene cover and leaving it all winter to rot down. I have also got some old rubble, bricks concrete pipes too. Then in spring I had wanted to create a rockery area out of the the space, I have a couple of huge rocks and quite a lot of smaller ones in the garden already. I plan to make a sort of mound (sorry for being vague) out of topsoil and make a little path around it out of stepping stones so I can access the plants. Then plant it up with suitable alpines etc. 

My main question is - do you think this will work - or as I fear - the whole mound thing will eventually sink as the debris underneath rots away further? Any ideas or suggestions welcome, I can't spend a fortune on it - much as I would love a designer to come in and do it all - but I am happy to do hard work and also happy for the thing to take time to create. 

Thanks, Jacqui.

 

The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.

— Gertrude Jekyll
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  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 3,106

    The soil will definitely sink as the material rots down and compacts. Also  most alpines do not like that rich a soil,so they would either grow out of character or die.

  • Dordogne DamselDordogne Damsel Posts: 2,115

    Ok thanks, how long do you think I would have to leave the 'mound' before it was fairly settled? If I added quite a deep level of topsoil would that be OK or perhaps mix it with something else? Or could I leave the polythene over the rotted stuff?

    Jacqui.

    The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.

    — Gertrude Jekyll
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 25,930

    I'd use the area for something that likes deep rich soils and put the rockery somewhere elseimage

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 7,010

    I think Nutcutlet's idea is the best one.  You could successfully grow a range of other plants including some veg rather than risk a huge disappointment by trying to make a rockery/alpine garden on unsuitable ground.image

    Hindsight always being a wonderful thing.....you could have had a sunken gardenimage

  • Dordogne DamselDordogne Damsel Posts: 2,115

    I can see how you are all thinking and it does make sense, however, I already have a huge veg patch and several other large perennial beds, a rose garden and a woodland glade. 

    I really do fancy a rockery and even thought about a little water feature in it, maybe a small waterfall or 'rustic' fountain. It is a huge space, 5x3 metres and is shady in the morning and full sun through the afternoon. 

    Any other ideas anyone as to how to make the hole more stable? I have been putting tree branches in as well as just garden waste, Even a whole pile of bamboo branches so even now I can walk across it. Pictures attached of the plot as it is now, have a whole garden to prune come autumn to compact it down further. 

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     This is a picture of what I am hoping for, sort of, in the end.

    image

     

    The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.

    — Gertrude Jekyll
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,815

    cover the area (and mound it slightly so you have a good foot of coverage) with top soil and wait over winter, the weight of the soil will help it compost and compact down. by April/may next year you'll be able to do what you want with it.

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 7,010

    Mmm........I don't suppose this strip leads to your Woodland glade does it ?  Might make a nice woodland walk perhaps ? You seem to have trees to either side ?

    To make it stable I would imagine all you could do would be to keep adding soil and compacting whilst the stuff you have piled in there gradually rots down ?  Pretty long term tho perhaps ?

    Having gardened in both France and Spain I can understand the frustrations of battling with a different environment.  However, you usually have more land in those countries so perhaps you could look on it as a "wild patch" and cultivate it as such ?  I actually quite like the look of that image so I suppose I am not being very constructive re your rockery project......sorry about that but wish you luck however you decide to deal with itimage

     

  • Dordogne DamselDordogne Damsel Posts: 2,115

    Thank you tree hugger, making me feel optimistic, will do as you suggest  but will apply patience and see what it looks like next spring before we I plant anything in it. Can be getting the little seedlings ready though. Perhaps if I put my big rocks in place they will help squash it all down before I plant it up. 

    The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.

    — Gertrude Jekyll
  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    I think tree hugger is right, maybe use some compost activator (urine is the cheapestimage) cover with soil mixed with a fair amount of grit perhaps. In the spring try throwing a couple of planks down and walking on it to see how much it is going to sink. If you build up some height with gritty earth, chances are the roots of the rockgarden plants may not reach the composted material.

    This type of plant grows in poor rocky soil, so try to emulate that. Small stones will increase drainage, again emulating their natural conditions.image

    It is going to take a lot of earth to build it up, it does seem a little perverse to take the biggest dip in the garden and make a mound out of it. But if you have set your heart on it then good luck with itimage

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 25,930

    I am the owner of a garden that is built on things that have been dumped in the past. It's still sinking in places after 22 years of our residence. The main culprits in the long term sinking are buried tree branches. They have a very long breakdown time. 

     

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