garden design gardening gardens recycling

An Ugly Duckling

Remember the story of “The Ugly Duckling” one of the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales, also a children’s song sung by Danny Kaye? We used to listen to that song on the radio when we were kids growing up in the 50’s on a programme called “Children’s Favourites”. Well, this post reminds me of it!

The least favourite part of our garden which we inherited when we first moved into our Plealey home ten years ago, is the central concrete pathway in the back garden. It consisted of a row of 3 feet by 2 feet concrete slabs with a concrete border each side about 9 inches wide. It looked so ugly, dull and grey!

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We decided to take up every other slab and replace them with purple slate. This was hard work as the slabs were 2 inches thick concrete and were very close together making leverage more difficult than we had anticipated. Where there were any spaces between them these had been filled with mortar. So it took a while to lever up each slab with a spade. We then “walked ” them onto a porters trolley to take them away.

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We put weed suppressing membrane down and topped it up with a good deep layer of slate.

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We have always wanted to get rid of it or at least change its look. We have at last got round to doing it. It was hard work but it gave us something creative to do on a cold  day when the ground was too wet to work on.

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One of the added bonuses of using any form of slate in the garden is the fact that it  features different colours depending on whether it is wet or dry. The slate was wet when we put it down so in the above photos the slate is purple-black in colour and deeply glossy, but when dry it goes much paler almost white with just a hint of grey and is matt in texture.

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So, there we have it the ugly duckling of a concrete path – turned into the beautiful swan – the new path of alternating slate and slab. We were pleased that we had managed to do this using recycled or re-used materials. The slabs were obviously our own and the slate came from the waste heaps of the old Welsh slate mines. These come from the waste heaps which until recently had no use whatsoever and they were a blot on the landscape of Snowdonia.

A good days work! An attractive new garden feature, reusing our old slabs and bringing in just one new material and that was a quarrying industry by-product.

By greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

2 replies on “An Ugly Duckling”

Amazing what a difference it made to trade out every other one. We have an ugly path from the garage to a side door that I think about changing every year and then my bad back vetoes it. The mind is willing but the body is not. But, you’ve made me think about it ‘again.’ 🙂

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