May 1, 2007
Hoggin is one of those lovely old words the dictionary can’t quite handle. (‘Same as hogging’ is its unhelpful definition.) what it means to a gardener is a relatively cheap, handsome, low-maintenance and long-lasting path material: self-binding gravel, sand and clay. You put it down wet, about two inches deep, and compact it with a heavy roller. that’s it. It tends to be a rather lurid orange for a year or so, but it makes a firm, non-slip, non-stick surface you can forget for years.
We are just re-hogginin’ the paths in the walled garden at Saling for the first time in at least 20 years. Latterly it’s true that weeds were getting a grip and plants advancing from the border alongside. I have rescued a hundred seedlings of Sisyrinchium striatum, the grey iris-leaved pioneer with pale yellow daisy flowers and yellow berries, one of the most useful of all plants for inhospitable soil. Old hoggin makes a good seedbed for lady’s mantle, too.
We have to scrape off the top inch or so of the old surface before we lay the new, and wait for mild weather (if we ever get any other kind). Once it’s done, all I’ll have to worry about is where the name comes from. Essex, I wouldn’t wonder.