Monday, 20 May 2013

Walk the line...

One of the things that stuck in my mind when we came to view this property was the pretty stepping stone path that teetered along the edge of the raised patio wall. It is the only way to get to the rest of the garden and can be a little scary walking so close to the edge of such a steep drop. Especially when a gale is blowing or you happen to be carrying something big and heavy and can't quite see where you are stepping.

If you have ever had that gut wrenching heart stopping moment when you miss a step going down stairs...that is what I felt every time I missed a stepping stone and came too close to the edge.

The gaps in between the stones were planted with alpines, bulbs and primroses which made for a very pretty walk in the spring...

The bluebells would appear and soon after that the geraniums would start to spill over onto the stones...

It became quite difficult to walk comfortably over the stones and plants were always getting squashed.

So, after much deliberation I decided to do away with the stepping stones. I came to the conclusion that safety is more important than beauty, particularly when you are faced with this drop...

So I spent a good few days in April carefully digging up and putting all the bulbs and plants into a nursery bed. I lifted all the stones and lugged them all the way up to the back of the garden. I removed all the weeds. I got sun burnt on the top of my head. I must remember to wear a hat.

I then started the task of laying a new path with some hexagonal paving slabs I got from Freecycle. The lady was redesigning her garden and had advertised the slabs for free as long as you came and lifted them which I thought was fair enough and an easy enough task as they were just sitting on a bed of sand.

It saved us money, she got them removed to make way for a nice new lawn and they were recycled instead of being put in the skip outside her house. I was very happy.

Until I started trying to lay them...

I thought it would just be a case of plonking the slabs down. It wasn't.

I had to excavate slightly larger amounts of soil each time I laid another slab as it is on a hill. It took a long time and I ended up with banks of exposed soil along the path which looked dreadful. 

So I planted a small variety of Euphorbia which has really flourished and is growing away happily. I really like how it softens the edges of the path. 

I replanted some Bluebells which have sulked a bit but one or two clumps have flowered.

I also replanted most of the Snowdrops, Crocuses, Muscari and Primroses along the edge of the path and put the rest in another part of the garden.

It isn't level and it doesn't have the same appeal of pretty stepping stones.

However I can now walk across without trampling anything, getting tangled in plants, or nearly falling off the drop when carrying something cumbersome.

There are still a few gaps so I was thinking about sowing some Thyme but I think the Geraniums will soon reestablish and fill the gaps.


The slow worms like to bask on the path when the sun shines which is lovely to see. The slugs and snails are much easier to spot as they make their way across the path after it rains. There is less weeding which is always a plus in my books.

I sometimes like to listen to the radio when working on my own, and the song that was playing when I finally laid the last slab was 'Walk the Line' and that is the song I hum every time I walk my own slightly wobbly line...



  1. I love the look of your old stepping stones surrounede by flowering plants, but I can understand that you wanted a safer path. And so nice it has become!
    You have really been working hard. Plants in place and all...
    I can see that you are quite some weeks ahead of me. Here where I live in Norway, spring has just begun and the daffodils are coming into bloom.
    I am so happy that you like my blog. I have added a translation button, but I'm not sure how well it will translate. Perhaps I will put down a few lines in English now and then in the future.
    I really enjoy your blog. You write very good!
    Have a nice evening:)

  2. Wow- such a lot of work but it looks splendid! I'm looking into doing some work with pavers in the autumn to replace my back lawn.

  3. Thanks for putting a good song into my head for me to hum all day! Your path looks lovely, I'm so envious of your garden and your gardening skills!! xx