Tree Following: March is Pedicure Time

I’m late to the party this month, not that this is unusual for me! I’ve had a fun month. Doris (remember Doris) clobbered the fence on one side of the garden. Repairs were complicated by the fact that the chap who erected the fence for me must have welded the screws in place and I couldn’t separate panels from posts (the panels were fine; the posts had given up the ghost). What should have taken half a day extended into three whole days. Then replacing a vacuum cleaner turned into a week-plus long saga of wrong model being delivered several times and, when I got the right model, it was faulty (backtrack to wrong model being delivered ……). Then my printer broke down (repair cost more than replacement cost – typical!). Then my steam generator (posh iron) went kaput. Add a few minor problems to the mix and I’m getting bald!

As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve had an interloping flamingo to deal with (thanks Gill)!

But better late than never, or so they say. So, with thanks to Squirrelbasket for hosting this tree-following meme, oft we jolly well go.

After last month’s haircut, it was time for a pedicure. Cutting the grass back in a nice circle around the trunk wasn’t working because, despite the tree being planted some years ago at the right depth (if anything too deeply!) roots had extended out above ground level and these prevented me from inserting a ring around the tree to keep the grass away as I’d done with Colin (see link at the end of this post).

This is Colin. He’s surrounded by a ring of steel which keeps the grass from intruding.

Meanwhile, the grass, and anything else that seized the opportunity, grew into the circle from outside.

This tree has always had a mind of its own! Over time it has sort of pushed itself out of the ground, displaying its bigger roots (probably thinks the display is sexy!)


Or, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat it, hide it.

And my saviour from grass incursion would be grass. Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, aka Golden Hakon Grass, to be exact.

This is a nice mound-forming clumpy sort of plant. When mature it’s a foot or so tall and spreads up to a couple of feet across. It’s undemanding care wise, just don’t let it dry out and clip it over in late winter before the new shoots appear. And it looks good too. The idea was to plant half-a-dozen of these around the trunk and let them grow out to camouflage the circle around the tree.

Step 1 was to clear the incoming growth.

You wouldn’t believe how much stuff I got out of that little circle! Grass, weeds, an opportunistic bramble or two ….

Step 2 was to remove most of the existing heavy gravel around the trunk. Though I’d confined resident cat to the house (he has this habit of climbing into trees and then dropping onto my head when I least expect it), I still had to contend with Flora Flamingo, who’d been re-homed to my place by fellow blogger Gill Heavens. Flora’s really a little watering can with a mind of her own but she’s just the right size to hold a bottle of Southern Comfort to meet my fortification needs. Made her a bit legless though!

Flora was sent to live with me by Gill Heavens (aka @GillHeavens)

Step 3 was to plant the grass. I’d bought six plants from Greens Leaves Nursery, just up the road and over the border in Gloucestershire (in Wales, we think anything less than 100 miles is “just up the road”; the nearest Tesco is over 7 miles away and please don’t ask about Waitrose!). I’d chosen six because (a) six should expand in a reasonable amount of time and (b) I didn’t fancy digging more than six holes through the roots of the tree.

Look small now but they’ll soon fill out.

Step 4 was to mulch. The gravel I’d removed was rather large chunks but I needed something to discourage weed growth whilst not impeding Hakonechloa growth. A light coating of flint did the trick and makes things look quite nice.


Flint’s in Wales, don’t you know?

At least Flora thinks so.

9 thoughts on “Tree Following: March is Pedicure Time

  1. This is one of my favourite grasses, although a nightmare to spell. It is going to look fantastic and I may well steal/borrow this idea myself. Glad Flora has settled in well, it looks like she is being very helpful around the garden. 🙂

    1. I just have a nagging worry that I may just have spaced them out a bit too much. Maybe another two or three will be needed. Flora’s been showing me something that you might like but I’m not sure whether it’s one or three feet tall. How do you feel about gnomes?

  2. We recently attended a talk by a well know designer of Japanese Gardens and he was singing the praises of this grass. You are obviously at the cutting edge of garden design.

    1. I will be at the cutting edge if the lawn dries enough to get the mower out! I don’t think of myself as a designer, rather a willing apprentice to the garden which is designing itself as time goes on.

  3. Good job! A post about planting around the base of a tree that makes me reconsider my thing against grasses. And makes me smile!

    1. It helps to have a bit of a thing when it comes to grasses. Some can be really invasive and are almost impossible to remove. You really need to choose carefully. Some of the giants can make a statement planted singly (though they need space to grow big); others need to be planted in drifts to look good. But used wisely, they can really accentuate other planting, be it a tree or flowery stuff. I’m hoping my choice will, in time, save me the continual job of keeping that circle neatly edged and leave more time for smiling. 🙂

  4. I like the way your crocus “runs” across the lawn. Almost natural, like the way fungi can spread. I can’t say that I am mad about Doris but she is right, your “skirt” around the tree looks jolly good.

    1. Thank you, kind sir. I was mad about Doris and the hassle she caused, albeit inadvertently. I think you meant Flora though. She’s on the way to becoming a bit of a meme, which is about all you can make of a bright pink flamingo-esque watering can!

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