In the back of my house, separating my part of the yard from the cottage's yard above, there's a stone wall, and in one place, there's a little rock garden type thing, between two boulders. And under the rock garden type thing, there is a bed, where I would like to be able to plant annuals. Except that the ferns and the weeds also like that particular space (it's very damp, for one thing), and any annuals I try to grow get crowded out.
Here's what it looked like a little while ago:
It doesn't look like much, I realize. A few years ago, Alex instructed me in how to reclaim it, a process that involved a layer of cardboard over the bed and a lot of new topsoil over the cardboard. (The idea is that the cardboard smothers the weeds below, and the topsoil gives you something to put plants in now. Eventually, the cardboard will disintegrate, and the plants will have the full depth of the bed at their disposal.) I did that the length of the whole bed under the stone wall, to mixed success. (Some part-shade perennials and bulbs are growing in the rest of the bed, though there are a few small stretches I've given up on.) But the bed under the rock garden is especially recalcitrant, and I didn't even try to grow anything in it last year.
But it's right outside my kitchen window, and it would be nice to see flowers in it, rather than weeds and ferns, and it so happens that I have a bunch of annuals that can tolerate a bit of shade and need someplace to go, so I decided to make another attempt at reclamation.
First, I hacked away at some of the grass and ferns on the perimeter of the bed, and then I pulled out the bulk of the weeds. Then came the layer of cardboard:
And then some topsoil and some compost:
If I were more organized, I'd be able to show you the fully covered bed with the annuals planted in it, but as it is, I didn't have as much topsoil on hand as I thought I had, so the last steps will have to wait for another day.
Meanwhile, though, it does look a bit less overgrown, and I'm looking forward to a nicer view from the kitchen. (This is taken from a few feet to the right of the kitchen windows, at the back door):
Part II will come as soon as I have more topsoil in my possession, which will hopefully be in the next few days.