At our place we don’t have access to the back garden (that’s why the allotment is so important!) but we do have a bit of space out the front. Although this front garden is mainly for the bins and storing our neighbours bikes, there is a bit of space which i’ve had my eye on for a small herb garden. This is a north facing space which gets a lot of shading from a tree on the next property so I won’t be holding out for basil and coriander but I think it would do for some mint and parsley.
As this bed is in the front and visible for all passers by to see, we thought it might be nice to put a bit more effort into the materials we use to build it. Reclaimed bits of timer from family members did a great job of the raised beds in the allotment but this time we thought that making hurdles might be a great way of add something special.
The reason why this slightly extravagant thought crossed our minds is because my boyfriends parents own a small patch of woodland and we’ve spent many a happy day pottering around the woods helping them with the odd task or two. We thought that putting some of their lovely hazel canes to use in some hurdles could be a good day well spent.
The following photos document the journey we’ve been through to make our little herb garden. Mike also put a short video together of our first attempt of making hurdles in seriously cold conditions! Watch video ‘Making Hurdles’
Day one in the woods…
We still went to the woods even though it was freezing! The table had to be de-iced before we could put the picnic on it!
MIke drilling the holes in a pallet to make the former. These are drilled in a slight curve, this makes it tighter when you remove the finished hurdle (we think!)
Hard to see through the ice, but the 5 holes required for our hurdle.
Five pieces of straight thick hazel are cut to size, about 1 metre.
The sails are pushed through the holes which keep them in line and through into the ground to about 30cm.
Due to the cold, we thought that heating up the hazel which had been coppiced the week before. This didn’t help in the end but it was worth a try!
The beginnings of a hurdle… not very good on the corners yet.
Weaving the hazel sticks around the sails. When you get to the end, the trick is to twist as you bend it around to come back. This is not as easy as it sounds, but Mike got the hang of it.
Mike making hurdles, his dad chopping firewood (the chopping kept him warm!)
Even the mars bars had to be warmed up!
Mike getting the hang of it. Turns out the coppice from last week didn’t work, but smaller, freshly cut sticks worked much better.
The finished hurdle!
Mike leaving the wood with his haul.
Our woodland haul, two hurdles, a bundle of been poles and some pea sticks!
Day two in the woods…
(Turns out it’s a hell of a lot easier / faster / and more pleasant to make hurdles in the sunshine!)
Second longer former to make hurdles at 120cm with 7 sails.
Mike demonstrating weaving of hazel.
A close up of the edge of the hurdle, showing how some canes are twisted and bent around to keep weaving back the other way.
The final four hurdles to complete the edging.
Day three, making the herb garden…
The front garden ‘before’ the herb garden.
Getting the first side in place.
Using off-cuts to mark where the sails need to go and knocking in rod of metal to bore pilot holes into the ground (this was a mix of stones, mud and concrete)
Nearly there with the sides of the herb garden. 60cm width with 240 cm length (made up of two hurdles at 120cm).
Once the sides were complete, we linded the inside with some black plastic we recycled from family.
Hard to see in this photo but compost was then added. Once we’d added all the compost we had, we cut the plastic edging back to just above the level of the compost.
The finished herb garden! Planted up with: sage (a plant we already had) mint, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, tarragon, lemon balm, lavender (bought from Kew gardens during a day trip to see the David Nash sculptures) and a strawberry plant. I’ve currently got parsley growing inside which I’ll add and when it eventually gets warmer, I’ll try some basil and coriander as well.