Last spring high winds brought down our fence which is very much needed both for privacy and shelter in our garden. It was our own fault, because we’d allowed the climbing plants to get too heavy and overgrown and the wind brought everything tumbling down.
So the challenge was how to make an attractive privacy screen as quickly as possible.
The mess was quite overwhelming, it was already early May, and I wasn’t sure if it was too late to repair the damage and have everything looking nice for the summer.
We live on a steep hill, and the gardens are stepped, each one higher than the other. This means that without some sort of screen we do feel quite overlooked.
We decided to make a raised bed, so that the plants got a head start at providing a screen. The creepers and climbing plants had had to be cut right back so that we could start again, but we kept the roots intact and knew from experience that they would be quite happy to spring back to life once the weather warmed up.
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We constructed the retaining wall out of oak 5′ x 4′ beams. This was an extravagance for us, but we wanted to make sure that it looked good and was built to last.
The existing soil was rather miserable, so we had a couple of 1/2 ton bags of topsoil and compost blend delivered to improve matters. I thought that there would be too much, but it took the whole lot to fill the bed.
As soon as I knew that I’d be needing to fill this bed, I set about sowing some seeds. I wanted to go for height, speed and impact, so decided to grow sunflowers and cosmos, with sweetcorn and courgettes in between.
I raised the seedlings inside to give them a good start and then brought them out to toughen up in the cold frame prior to planting out.
We had fixed the wooden trellis back up above the wall, and the creeper was very keen to get going. Things were already starting to look better.
By late July everything was in full bloom, and you’d never had guessed that we’d had so much upheaval only a couple of months earlier.
We had courgettes coming already and a forest of sweetcorn helping the sunflowers provide an excellent and very attractive screen.
The sunflowers bloomed right through to the end of August, and were a real delight, and afterwards went on to provide fantastic food for the birds.
The cosmos gave such a colourful display, it’s feathery green fronds bushing out in between the tall sunflower soldiers. The sweetcorn didn’t yield very many cobs, probably because it’s a bit shady on that side of the garden, but the lush stalks and leaves did contribute well to the decorative screen.
All in all, not bad going when you see what a mess it looked in May!