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coverupI've lost count of the number of times some ugly and immoveable edifice has spoiled my otherwise attractive garden. I'm sure you've had the same experience – the tree stump that refuses to budge and which you know will take several years to rot away, the concrete pile you just can't knock down to ground level. How about that half-buried bath the previous land owner was using as a goldfish pond? Oh, and don't forget the mound of clay left over from the time you got the digger to make the hole for the septic tank.

OK, I think you get the picture. Now, here's the solution, which I stumbled upon during my latest round of community garden touring. A great mound of dirt like the one in this photo will hide almost anything (or, if you don't have anything to hide, you can always import a load of soil for the purpose). In this garden, rocks have been used to form an artful spiral while providing enough of a "terrace" to allow for planting on several levels. You could equally well break up the mound with bricks, wooden strips of "half-rounds" (ask for them at your local garden centre), or up-ended wine bottles. If your unsightly mound of dirt contains mainly clay (which is often the case if it's the spoil from a large hole), create in it planting pockets of compost and animal manure deep enough to allow individual seedlings to flourish.

This kind of built-up garden is a real invitation to be artistic. Plant vine-like plants such as kumara, pumpkins, or bright nasturtiums in the upper levels and let them trail down to the ground. Create extra height by placing an obelisk or bird table in the centre of the mound. Think "dramatic" and consider erecting a garden sculpture on top and surrounding it with bright banks of parsley or traffic-light beet. Let your imagination run wild (if you get it wrong, there's always another season!).

However you decide to plant your garden mound, remember that any raised- bed will dry out faster than a garden at ground level, so be prepared to water as required. And because a mound-garden will not easily hold mulch (which will tend to slide off or blow away) include a few stepping stones here and there in your design to give you easy access for weeding.

Have fun, everyone and, if you start your mound-garden now, you should have that rusting car chassis covered in time for spring planting!

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