I am growing a sh1t tonne of plants in the greenhouse (I believe this is a recognised horticultural term…), more than I can sensibly manage I expect, and we haven’t got to cuttings season yet. What the heck am I going to do with them all? Should have thought about that before you started all this propagation business, I hear you say? You’re probably right. However, my thoughts are turning now to how best to use the results of my propagating action. Or rather, which modest percentage of those outputs will I have room for, and which can I use to best effect.
We have a modest sized suburban garden, standard issue rectangle in shape, about 80′ by 35′ overall. The pretty part, as opposed to the productive part, is about 30′ by 35′ wide, mostly laid to lawn with borders on all sides, see photo below.
The left and right borders are about 4′ wide, the rear borders are about 5′ wide and front borders which are hiding behind the patio, are just 2′ deep. They could all benefit from being wider, but as you can tell from the climbing frame and trampoline, there are other stakeholders to consider. I’ll manage with them the size they are, for now…
The long border on the left is in need of an overhaul. I’d call it a re-design if there was any design done in the first place. I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to choosing plants – I typically come away from a garden centre not quite knowing why I bought a plant (more often plants) nor where I’m going to put them. I just bung them in wherever there’s a space, or at least appears to be. I’m going to take the opportunity to have a clearout of plants I don’t appreciate, or that aren’t doing much, or don’t add much interest. I will be ruthless. Without ruth, I say. It is the sunny border – the sun starts the day at the rear-right of the garden and goes back to the front through the day, so the left border is in the sun pretty much the whole day.
It’s a giant game of keep or chuck. I intend to…
- Geum (not labelled in the photo). There’s two, red ones, between the broom and the cotinus.
- “purple shrub” – don’t know the variety, goes well every year. curt roight baaack this winter.
- anemone and alchemilla mollis
- the clematis, recently planted along the fence line
- witch-hazel. it’s flowered quite well this year and is (very) slowly growing to a decent size. there’s also some zebra grass behind it.
- there are some other small perennials dotted about which I will re-assess when they poke their heads up
- cordyline. boring, doesn’t do much.
- the “unloved shrubs”. no idea what they are, think one is self-seeded, the other I vaguely recall planting. whilst they are evergreen, they don’t add to my enjoyment of the garden, so it’s curtains for them I’m afraid. They will live on as mulch, after I’ve shredded them and let them compost down a bit. Not mulch more I can do about it! They are also concealing a great swathe of empty space in the corner which can be put to better use.
It didn’t look too bad last year, but more by luck than judgement.
The rear-left bed is also an opportunity, I think. There are one or two highlights, but some need to go to the great shredder in the sky.
- buddleia. as much as anything else I like the ritual of chopping it back to a stump and seeing it spring right back anew
- wisteria. this is my baby, bought it as a teeny useless scrap of a plant. took about 5 years to flower at all, but the last couple of years it has flowered properly, better each year. I have high hopes that it will do even better this year as I finally figured out how to prune it properly, and I’ve remembered to feed it. Later in the year it will cover the whole trellis and the arch, possibly invading the trellis on the other side of the path.
- against the trellis, there are two or three clematis which may or may not be dead. If they experience a resurrection they are keepers. If not I will replace with the spares I have left over.
- cistus. nice salmon pink flowers. they are in a race with the buddeia, it overshadows them a bit once it has grown out.
- blue grass. forget the name.
- black elder. last year this shrub went totally bananas, grew to easily 8 feet tall, bit of a monster. looked good though. I chopped it back to get it under control a bit. It’s beginning to put out new stems so it survived the haircut.
- the trellis pyramid is a remnant from an attempt to grow some sweet peas. when I planted them there was bags of space and light. then everything else grew and muscled them out – they were a disappointment. lot of faff for little joy.
- lavender – needs a trim. there are also come cyclamen hiding in there.
- like the long border, there are some perennials dotted about which I will ponder about when they reappear.
- another bloomin cordyline.
- kniphofia. can’t stand em. and anyway, it never flowers. waste of space.
There is plenty of room for more interesting plants
Finally the small border at the front, next to the patio. It is shallow at 2′ so not a lot of room for layers.
- potentilla fruticosa (incorrectly labeled in the picture as a pittopsorum) small shrub, neat yellow flowers. harmless enough.
- carex, getting a bit unruly but I like it.
- there are a bunch of alchemilla mollis in there too that are reliable performers. I like the leaves more than the flowers.
- purple loosestrife
- rosemary – maybe, maybe not. It is getting a bit woody and over-large. I have another one, and some cuttings on the go too. might lose this one if I have something more interesting to put there.
- there is a random selection of perennials to the right of the rosemary which, again, I will reserve judgment on
- well, nothing really. except the rosemary, maybe.
I may add a couple of feet of depth to this border, see if anyone notices…
Plenty of opportunity, should keep me busy.
I have a few recently acquired books on planting schemes that I’ll be using for research, so I’ll be back with some thoughts on planting plans for these borders.
[update 11-Apr-17 – read here on acts preparatory to border design]