As I write this, April is well under way, but the photos were taken in March, just about. Spring has sprung so, as you’d expect, things are beginning to happen in the garden. Let’s take a spin around the borders.

Rear garden

Border 1 – Perennials are beginning to emerge from their slumber, and the alliums I planted back in October are coming through well, but there is plenty of real estate here for new planting. The aubrieta on the left is finally flowering, and the dianthus on the front left has bulked up, apparently surviving the various winter privations well. That grass on the right is looking a bit untidy. There are actually two biggish clumps, I might remove one. The rosemary in the middle is looking a bit tired, and did not enjoy the cold weather. I might eject it. This border may change shape dramatically if my garden plans come to fruition this year. Since I won’t be growing tomatoes on the patio this year, I see an opportunity for another planter to complete the set. They provide a nice screen and some colour too once the flowers are out.

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Border 2 – There has been pruning since the last Border Patrol. The cotinus and the physocarpus have both had a severe haircut. Not really visible in these pictures, the dozen or so clematis along the fenceline are all beginning to rev up. I have big plans for this fenceline this year, I have several climbing roses that need planting up. There are already three, all ‘danse de feu’, plus I have another 3, all different. In other news, the daffodils are out, and beginning to fade away already, but there are tulips waiting in the wings. The perennials in this border are also growing away strongly through the mulch. Doing particularly well are monarda and helenium.

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Border 3 – The wisteria is the queen of this border. I pruned it hard last month and it is responding with lots of new buds. My plan is to tie in new growth lower down in the hope of getting a better spread of flowers. I will also allow long growth both left and right to extend the spread along the nearby fence and trellis panels. I planted a honeysuckle at the rearmost fence panel in the picture. It’s still small so not very evident, but it should cover the panel over the next year or two. Bulbs are the main story at the moment, plenty of daffs, plus tulips and alliums to come. I think the scrappy lavender at the near end of the photo needs to come out – it’s not really adding anything and there is a lot of weedy grass growing through it. Perhaps I’ll tidy it up first, see what happens.

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Border 4 – Two months running now as I’ve written these Border Patrol posts, I have said that lavender must come out. Since taking these photos I have done exactly that. Looks better already. I have also weeded the vinca which has rooted in every spot a stem touched the ground. Fortunately it comes up pretty easy. The fatsia on the right is looking a little frosted in places, it needs tidying up, as does the rosemary. In fact, the rosemary is suffering, it has dropped a lot of leaves from the lower branches. I’ll see how it goes, but it might have to come out. The phlox and asters have all survived the winter quite happily and are now growing away strongly. When they are a little bigger I will take basal cuttings to increase stocks.

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Border 5 – There has been some pruning action in this border as well. The physocarpus and the pittosporum have all had varying degrees of haricut, severe in the case of the physocarpus. This should let a bit of light in and allow some more adventurous underplanting. The pittosporum is leaning rather drunkenly. I need to decide whether to stake it and pull it a little more vertically, perhaps even replanting it. Or maybe it’s time to get rid. Closer to that end of the spectrum is the abelia, which does flower incessantly, so there’s that, but also looks a bit untidy. I should clip it back a bit. Since taking this picture I have also pruned the cornus hard, back to the framework. It’s a shame to remove the bright red stems, but it will repay me by letting some light in for a while, and by being even brighter next winter. The final picture is taken from the alley down the side of the house, the scene of some vigorous planter building, to the point where that deserves some attention of its own next Border Patrol.

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Border 6 – The gaura looks dead, but perhaps some new growth will emerge from the roots, but everything else seems to have survived the winter OK. If I ever get around to changing the layout of the garden, this border will triple in size.

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Front Garden

Border 7, 8 and 9 – I’m quite pleased with these borders. Freshly planted back in june, the perennials and bulbs are all growing away vigorously. There is plenty of space for new plants to go in, and the lawn seems increasingly pointless, it might well come up this year.

Border 10 – territorial thievery really, I have commandeered some space from the grass verge on the street side of my front wall. It is planted mainly with bulbs at the moment, but I will add more plants, annuals mainly I think, when they have grown on a bit.

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After a few fairly dull winter months in the borders, things are moving a-pace and it will soon be hard to keep up.

I’ll be back in a month with the next Border Patrol.

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