Yes, I finally comitted something to paper. I have gone through a couple of stages in this process.  First I looked at what was in the borders already that I wanted to keep (or chuck).  Next I needed to get a handle on all the propagation activity and start thinking through the plants I should have available, their attributes and possible companions.  I built a little database which you can read about here.  Ultimately though, I needed to put pencil to paper.

I measured the borders so I know what I have.  The basic shape is an elongated “U”, with the long side running along the fence line and the two end borders enclosing that half of the lawn.  There is a mirror of this on the other side of the lawn, but that’s not in scope of this project (yet…).

basic border plan
Basic layout. Far from revolutionary.

The house is to the left of Border 1, the veg patch, greenhouse etc is to the right of Border 3 and the fence runs along the back of Border 2.  I’m treating each border as a separate design, with some thought given to knitting them together.

Border 2 gets the most sun, it’s more or less south-facing, Border 1 gets the sun in the morning, Border 3 gets the sun in the afternoon. The sun passes from back of the garden to the front and over the house as the day progresses (right to left as you look at the picture above. Border 1 was 0.6m deep but over the bank holiday weekend I sacraficed some lawn, doubled the bed to 1.2m deep. This will give a bit more room for plants, see photo below.

Space for more plants, less lawn and less mowing!

It looks quite neat and tidy, edged and mulched. Almost a shame to make it untidy by planting in it! I’d ideally have them all a couple of feet deeper to allow for a greater range of planting, but that might have to wait a few years till the climbing frame is surplus to requirements.

I’ve decided to have Border 2 as a largely “hot” border colour-wise and Borders 1 and 3 more to the cool end of the spectrum. It won’t be perfectly delineated like this I expect. I’ve no doubt I’ve committed some heinous border design faux pas, many of them, probably. I figure I’ll just ring the changes if some things don’t work. I think that’s half the fun.

Here is version 1. If you click on it you can zoom in and gave a look around. I think it needs some work still.

Version 1 design.

Even I struggle to interpret this picture, it’s a little crammed in. I’ve decided I need a bigger scale, Version 2 is 5cm to 1m. I’ve split the long border into two parts to fit it on the page.  I’m glad I did version 2 – I double checked measurements and they were off by a couple of feet, partly because I forgot to account for the widening of Border 1.

After an hour with the coloured pencils, here they are in all their glory.  Click and zoom in to check it out.

Version 2. Borders 1 & 3.
Version 2. Border 2.

I should be able to start planting in a few weeks once plants have grown on a bit and hardened off. I reserve the right to change my mind! There are a fair few plant varieties that I haven’t been able to factor in to these plans because they haven’t yet germinated. If that changes in the next few weeks I may find a spot for them. Of course, I may also have some losses that cause a rethink. I’m not too worried though as the other half of the garden is next and that has some space for any that are tolerant of a bit of shade.

I’ve found this design task to be far more difficult than the process of growing and propagating the plants. This is fundamentally down to lack of experience or training, so I am feeling my way, using a lot of books to help.   I’ll make a list of the references I’ve used and post that separately.

If you spot a plant combination that makes you wince, or if you can see a better combination using the plants you see, please knock yourself out in the comments, I will be very glad to have the advice.

I’ll be back, with an update on growing progress, planting out, design tweaks and so on.