Another month flies by, an interesting mix of cool and hot and sunny weather. The garden has responded by generating a tonne of jobs, from tying in climbing plants, to weeding, tidying and potting on. Busy times. In this series of monthly posts, I am attempting to consider with a critical eye the borders as a whole rather than individual plants. I’m looking for what works, what needs to come out, what might be missing, that elusive je ne sais quoi that might lift the whole thing. Let’s take a spin.

Rear Garden

Border 1 – Finally, a bit of colour. Not much, but a bit. The aubrieta is out, and the dianthus at the front left is bushing out very nicely with new growth. I grew about 80 of these little plants last year, I have a few clumps dotted about. I am anticipating a profusion of long lasting pink flowers. The alliums are also making their presence felt, that should be a good display. I think I could do with a bit of height in the back of this border. The loosestrife does get to a decent height and the broom is quite tall (it needs staking) but I think I need more heigth along the length of the border. Ideally I would have plants mostly covering the front of the two big planters on the patio behind. That rosemary is living on borrowed time I think, and the pheasant’s tail grass is a bit unruly over on the right. There are two plants there, I might take the largest one out to allow a bit of elbow room. I note that there is quite a bit of empty space, a good thing as I have loads to plant out.

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Border 2 – The shrubs at the patio end have both been pruned, and are both now throwing out new growth, the physocarpus more enthusiastically than the cotinus. The clematis and roses along the fence line are putting on good growth this year. The roses are all new plantings this year, either from cuttings or new purchases. I am hoping for some decent coverage of that fence this year. The clematis are in their second year, so should at least flower a little. I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on together with the roses. They are all tied in, but that will be a repeat task for as long as I can access the fence line. I have also managed to get some support in to some of the taller plants in advance of them needing it. This is normally a belated job for me, involving canes and string and disappointment.

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Border 3 – The wisteria is gearing up, lots of baby racemes, if we ever get any sunshine it will come on strong. There are clematis and roses planted along the trellis in this border too, again I am looking forward to seeing them do their thing. There is plenty of space in this border too. In general the planting in these three borders is looking a little disorganised. I need to have a think about what I want where. I have put this off as I have half a mind to change the layout of the garden, which would significantly expand borders 1-3. I need to defecate or get off the pot.

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Border 4 – The honesty was a surprise – for a start I forgot it was there, and when I remembered it was, I was expecting purple flowers. More clematis at the back, I am expecting big things. I will have a look at a couple of the less well established clems as I have plants waiting for spaces which could go here if the incumbents are slacking off. I like this border, to my uneducated eye it seems well proportioned. I could do with adding something to the left side, but at least I have finally got around to removing the scrappy lavender. There is room to plant…

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Border 5 – the normally shady border will have a bit of light, at least for a couple of months, as I have pruned back all the shrubs except the pittosporum. Neither the abelia nor the physocarpus has ever been pruned, so this is by way of a renovation. They don’t seem to have minded overly, they are both throwing out new growth. I have staked the pittosporum, too late perhaps, as it was leaning further and further over into the garden. I’m wondering if I should dig it up and replant in more a more traditional vertical pose. Some of the under planting is coming back from its winter rest, but there is still plenty of scope for more shade-tolerant planting in this border. I have some berberis cuttings, kindly provided by grannysgarden. They would be ideal if they root. Now that the dogwood is pruned back, the weigela looks really untidy. That has never been pruned either. I am going to wait for it to flower than have at it with the cutters. Looking down the final fence panel and on into the alley, I really want to cover all those panels so they are more like the nearest one in the last photo. That has a climbing rose, a hydrangea and a dwarf hop, plus some unwanted ivy for good measure. That panel totally disappears.

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Border 6 – Still tiny, still unloved. Still, it will at least fill out this year, even if I don’t get around to extending it. Most evident at the moment are the heuchera and the allium foliage, flowers soon to follow, one hopes. The geum ‘totally tangerine’ is a decent size now. I might dig it up and divide it, come to think of it, I can probably get three or four plants from it. Maybe I’ll let it flower first. There is a gaura making a late bid and the tiarella is also about to join the party. I probably can’t fit much more in to its current shape.

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The Alley – not a border as such, but recent developments make a good case for its inclusion here. Since last time I have installed a few home-made planters and a living wall. The ferns in this are just getting going, they should more or less hide the shelving in a month or two. The planters just have their back-bone planting in, the climbers that I hope will cover the render. I have installed the necessary wire supports. I intend to build and plant up another few planters at the rear garden end of this side-passage.

Patio steps – a thin excuse to include some tulip action. It is my aim to have these containers continually planted up with colour until first frost. When the tulips go over I will remove them to a less prominent position to allow their unlovely foliage the necessary time to replenish the bulbs, then I have plenty of bedding and other annuals growing away to take their place.

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Front garden

Border 7, 8 and 9 – the slightly chaotic planting is filling out nicely, despite the best efforts of the local bindweed gang. There is still space for more plants, always a good thing.

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Border 10 – something of an afterthought, a bit of guerilla planting, taking a liberty with council property, this bit of ground is actually not in my garden. This won’t really come into its own until I plant out some annuals I have brewing in the greenhouse. I was surprised to see the wallflower coming back to life. The edging needs doing as a matter of urgency, a common theme in all the borders…

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That’s the tour for this month, what do you think? I shall be glad to hear any ideas for plants that might fill a spot.

I’ll be back next month with another Border Patrol.

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