Have you lost the plot?

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THERE’S a bit of everyone’s garden that’s a neglected dumping ground. Here’s mine and my dream to turn it into a shady paradise.

OLD paving slabs, compost bins, forgotten “experiments” – the far corner of my garden is an eyesore.

It suffers from “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome. It’s furthest away from the house and I only really go there to pick sunberries or go to the compost heaps.

Wobbly concrete paving slabs, a remnant from the last owner, form a terrible path that’s hazardous in summer and downright lethal in winter.

Slabs I have dug up are stacked together, along with my blue chair that’s so rotten it will be the downfall of the cat if he sits on it, let alone a person.

The big trellis fence supports the sunberry – not pretty, but worth its weight in gold. It’s not intrusive, so that stays.

The beech hedge is a great backdrop, so that’s in, as is the jewel in the crown, the whitebeam tree.

Its grey-green leaves, white underneath, stunning autumn colour and berries are a lovely focal point.

I’ve been given a crab apple as a gift (which hasn’t arrived yet) but when this is planted, it will cast more shade.

As for the rest of the plants, it’s an understatement that a move would be beneficial for them.

I seriously underestimated the amount of shade here.

The yellowing leaves at the back are a Helianthus Lemon Queen (perennial sunflower). The name should have given me a clue.

There’s also a mahonia which has done nothing despite supposedly loving shade and some goliath lilies, which did flower quite well.

A euphorbia Fireglow and echinops (globe thistle) also would do better in a brighter spot. The raggy front of the bed is a mix of variegated phlox with pink flowers and a large hosta, all overrun with a plant, I am ashamed to say, I can’t remember the name of, as it was given to me as a cutting and is attempting world domination.

The tall things are former Christmas tree trunks which made great supports for two cup and saucer vines, which created masses of lovely purple foliage, but alas, no flowers.

So what have I been waiting for?

Getting rid of concrete, that’s what.

The previous owner seemed to be obsessed with covering soil with very permanent reminders of the 1960s.

Slabs, bricks, concrete, slate, you name it. There was only one thing to do – get the sledgehammer out.

I managed to smash up and move everything on the lower level before the great deluge hit.

All the plants have been lifted out and given new homes in sunnier places.

Once I’ve got the top bit smashed up, it’s a matter of ordering loads of gravel and a membrane to make a safe path that goes directly to the compost bins, so I’m not tempted to cut corners.

Of course, rain stopped play this week, but that gave me the opportunity to make up a wish list of shade-tolerant plants I’d like. White is the dominant colour, as it needs to shine out to be seen from the house.

My first treat? A single early tulip collection from J Parker’s (www.jparkers.co.uk), £19.95 for 75 bulbs, white tulip Diana, £10.48 for 30, plus 15 free Apricot Beauty. They’re all to go in pots which I’ll dot around the beds to give them a boost in April/May.