As I spread more gravel around the planting by the garden railway I realised with a sinking heart that I was going to have to order another bag. I am so far down the current one that I can see the bottom, so there can't be more than three or four barrow's worth left in it. That is not going to be enough to cover all the remaining thin patches. Hey ho. It would be tempting to leave it until later, but by now I have an I've started so I'll finish feeling about the railway garden. I would like to be able to look at it and think Right, that's done, and tick it off the list. The gravel on the drive near the entrance has got bald patches as well, where the ancient tarmac shows through, so some of an extra bag could go on those. And that bit would be quite quick to do, because I wouldn't have to push the wheelbarrow very far and it would be on a solid substrate.
Gravel is not to everybody's taste. For wheelchair users it is hell. But it is about the cheapest way of covering shabby tarmac. The plant centre used it throughout the plant display area and the car park, and some would-be customers were not happy with it, and I could see their point, only installing any kind of block paving over the whole area would probably have cost more than the plant centre made in profits in its entire history. Descriptions of gardens in the NGS Yellow Book are careful to say whether gravel is used, and through how much of the garden, along with whether there are steps or steep slopes, to give potential visitors an idea of accessibility. Our garden would come off badly: gravel, grass slopes, steep steps without handrails, but we are not open to the public.
I have not seen buying two or three large builders' bags of gravel and then shovelling it into a wheelbarrow and pushing it up a slight slope on more gravel laid on earth before shovelling it back out of the wheelbarrow recommended as a form of load bearing exercise to encourage ladies' ageing frames to hang on to the calcium in their bones, but I daresay it will do as well as going to the gym. And you do not have to pay a gym membership fee, and you end up with some gravel spread where you wanted it.
Meanwhile, I was telling you about the summer pots last night when supper was ready before I had got to the set that hasn't worked, leaving the worst until last. The pale yellow and blue scheme did not really come off at all. The flowers of the blue Convolvulus sabatius turned out much more purple than I was expecting. This showed up badly next to the blue of the Salvia patens 'Cambridge Blue' which really was a true, pale sky blue. The pale yellow Cosmos barely grew, and made such weedy little plants that I ended up moving their pots off display back to the hard standing outside the greenhouse. The yellow Argyranthemum overwintered from last year refused to make any fresh growth, despite watering, feeding, and checking the roots for root aphid (there wasn't any). The pale yellow dahlia was OK but not as pale as I'd hoped, and now keeps blowing over because the wind turns out to whistle round the corner of the patio (or terrace) and hit that group of pots with peculiar violence. I believe it is traditional on Facebook and Instagram to offer up an edited, idealised version, but on cardunculus you get the unvarnished truth about gardening. This particular effort was rubbish.