I am finding it tricky to keep to my planned blog post schedule, what with all the watering, gardening, footie and the day job. A casualty of this has been June’s border patrol, which I am only just getting around to now. I took the photos on 1st July, so it was almost June. This monthly series is intended to provide a record of how the borders look as the years go by, and through the year, as well as encourage me to take a broader perspective, see where the overall border display could be improved. Let’s take a spin.
Border 1 – On the sunny side of the garden, this border is prone to becoming parched if not given a good soak once or twice a week. The loosestrife doesn’t like being dry, its natural habitat being near water. The dianthus, previously very pink and perky are now pretty crispy. I’ve since taken the shears to them, removing all the spent blooms and the dried out stems. I’m hoping they’ll stage a recovery. If not, out they’ll come. I’ve planted a few persicaria ‘fat domino’ between the back and front rows. Grown from seed this spring, they may not do a great deal this year. The pot in the front contains a russian sage, a cutting taken last year. It has been there a few weeks, stubbornly refusing to plant itself out. I might have to take matters into my own hands.
Border 2 – The clematis and roses along the fenceline have begun to assert themselves. Not great coverage yet, that will come next year I hope. But signs of things to come. The helenium are huge this year, a good 5 feet, heading to 6 feet tall. Not sure why, perhaps the support I gave them has helped them grow taller, or perhaps they are just getting established, or perhaps the conditions have suited them. I doubt it’s the latter, at least in recent weeks, they prefer to have wet feet and are prone to drooping if left to dry out. The cotinus is not as floppy as it has been in the past. I still think there are a few stems I might take the secateurs to, give them a summer prune. A new addition to the border this year is a lobelia tupa, grown from seed last year. It has grown fairly large, with five flower stems on it. The observant among you will notice some landscape fabric, visible on the edge of one of the photos. This will be the subject of a later post, but I have dug some more border space to surround a new seating area in the corner where Border 2 and 3 meet.
Border 3 – I’m getting a little bored with the numbered naming convention. Perhaps this should be the Wisteria border. I recently gave it the summer pruning treatment, knocking back the long whippy stems to within 5 buds of the base. I was pleased to find that the trunk has sent out more whippy stems lower down. I’ve kept those, tying in or threading through the trellis, the aim being to cover more of the trellis with wisteria flowers next year. The allium seedheads are providing some structure. There’s still a bit of space in this border, in to which I have planted some more annuals, poppies and cosmos in the main. I have planted several salvia in here too, limited growth this year, should bulk out and flower more next year. Although the wisteria is quite tall, most of it’s growth is at 6 to 8 feet high, I am missing plants which fill the middle height at 3 to 6 feet. I’ve planted a couple of dogwoods, which as they mature will give a little height, as well as providing a bit of winter interest. The two climing roses are busy establishing, and have flowered a little, but both have had their first flush this year. I’d like them to concentrate on building some stem structure which should allow me to cover the lower parts of the trellis.
Border 4 – In partial shade, this border is a little easier to manage than the sunnier borders. I am gradually allowing the aforementioned wisteria to colonise this trellis, it is growing across the arch quite nicely. I have lots of long stems to tie in this winter when everything else has died back. The clematis ‘Rebecca’ in here is going great guns, its best year yet. The lilac, a dwarf variety, is nonetheless getting quite big and beginning to shade out some of the planting. I lack height in many of my borders so I am reluctant to remove it. I’ll work around it. The fatsia over on the right has put on a good 2 feet of new growth this year. It is a good plant for a shady corner, the foliage is a good colour, an interesting shape, and the flowers are a little bit bonkers when they come out later in the year.
Border 5 – the shady border. It is north-ish facing, although the front row does get a bit of sun during the day. I have stuffed plants in here this year, having pruned back some of the larger shrubs. I still haven’t pruned the weigela. In fact, the area behind around that presents an opportunity. The fence is quite visible here, I wonder if some more tall grasses, or perhaps a well-behaved bamboo or two, would be good here. The abelia, previously quite unruly, I cut back a couple of months ago to the bare stems. It has responded well and is now quite a nice small shrub. It will continue to grow, of course, and no doubt become unruly again. For now it has given me the opportunity to plant some foxgloves in front of it. At least, I think they are foxgloves, grown from unlabeled seeds.
Border 6 – the puny border. The geum has flopped over, another customer for one of my home-made plant supports next year. In its floppage it is crowding out the gaura, barely visible here. The eryngium cuttings are growing on well at the right hand side. The penstemon is at least flowering pretty well, I’ve taken a few cuttings to spread it around a bit more. The heuchera on the left is not enjoying the heat or strong sunshine, preferring a shadier spot I think. This is my least favourite border in the back garden.
I still have it in mind to extend this border to follow the new path line. This would roughly double, perhaps more, the size of the planting area. A project for later in the year.
these planters are looking pretty good at the moment. I need to build two or three more, haven’t got around to it yet, although I have the wood now. For now I’ll be content to let the climbers establish. I finished the last section of wire supports the other week, so they have no excuses.
The front garden is a sun trap from about 2pm in the summer, and I’m afraid to say the dry heat has done me no favours here. The soil is very sandy and has only a thin, unevenly applied mulch. It thus dries out very fast. There is also quite a lot of space in the borders, I have neglected it a little. On the plus side, this clearly presents some opportunities to improve next year.
That’s a wrap for June (or early July).
I’ll be back at the end of July for another Border Patrol. In theory.