The photos herein were taken on the last day of November, so the pictures are legit, even if the writing is happening in early December. In this series of monthly posts, I am recording for posterity the state of the borders in my garden, with the idea that I can review, compare, contemplate, cogitate and occasionally make decisions.  I was looking back at last month’s Border Patrol post.  There was not much colour left in the garden, but there was so much more than is left now!  We are in the drab phase, and I am reminded once again that I don’t have a great deal of winter interest, something I should rectify.  Anyhow, let us take a spin.

Rear Garden

Border 1 – The patio border.  Having already resolved to strip this border bare and start again, I shall say no more other than to note that I have plenty of plants waiting for a spot in this border.  I should also add that I have planted more bulbs in the new part of the border, and also a tree.  Still small, it should grow slowly over the next 10 years or so, getting to perhaps 3m tall.  It is a cercis canadensis ‘forest pansy’, promising three seasons of interest. This clearly isn’t one of them…

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Border 2 – The sunny border. Not so sunny just now, things are looking threadbare. I have cut most things back for the winter and the shrubs are bare. I have planted tulip bulbs in this border since the last patrol, and have also given it a good mulch with recently made compost.

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Border 3 – The Wisteria border, incorporating the Eye of Sauron.  The titular wisteria has dropped its leaves so I can now see clearly what needs tying in.  I will give it the second prune over the Christmas break, but for now it can remain unmolested. More tulips and narcissi have gone in these borders, and the dahlia have all been cut back and given a leaf mould duvet.  I have a few dozen alliums that I have planted in 7cm pots for now. In the spring when I can see where the gaps are, I’ll plant them out around the sunnier side of the garden. There are already a lot of alliums in this border, but really, can one have too many?  Course not.  Lots of my home-made plant labels can be seen, liberally scattered through the borders. Each marks the spot of a sleeping perennial or perhaps a buried group of bulbs. They are very nearly the only interesting thing in this border at the moment! Now that the perennials have died back or at least faded gracefully, I note that the eleagnus ‘quicksilver’ and the hydrangea ‘annabel’ are in too close a proximity. In fact there is a perovskia that is too close to both of them. I need to do a bit of plant juggling or they will get in eachothers way.  I’m pretty happy with this area, but I am looking forward to developing this corner of the garden next year.  I am hopeful that some of my corrective pruning and training of the wisteria will result in a more even spread of flowers. 

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Border 4 – The lilac border.  I have been making threatening gestures toward the lilac in this border, complaining that it is getting too big for its breeches, crowding out the other plants.  Since last time I have removed any untidy or annoying lower branches, effectively raising the canopy a couple of feet. This should allow more room for the underplanting. I will reserve further judgement until it is in leaf again.  I might well remove the rosemary from this border. Whilst it is evergreen, it is an untidy shape and takes the space of several more interesting potential characters.  While wrestling with the invasive jasmine a week or two back, I was reminded that the trellis is leaning drunkenly as the right fence post has rotted at the ground. The large ceanothus that I removed months back was doing a good job of holding it up, it seems. Shoring this up will be a job for the winter.

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Border 5 – The Shady border.  I continue to tinker with this border but in general am pretty happy with it. I have resolved to decapitate the leaning pittosporum as there is lots of nice vertical growth appearing lower down on the trunk.  I was recently sent a chunk of a bamboo which will go in the gap behind the harts tongue ferns.  The abelia, hard pruned earlier this year, is growing pretty unevenly, obscuring the underplanting that I perhaps foolishly planted just after I pruned it. I have to decide what to do about it.

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Border 6 – The as-yet-unnamed border. No changes since the last time, except some bulbs have been planted in the new area. I have the beginnings of a planting plan in mind for this border. It will involve geraniums, probably planted along the edge close to the path.

Side alley

A couple more planters have been added since last time, I think, and new climbing roses have gone in them, right at the back of this photo. Both are David Austin roses, ‘The Pilgrim’ and ‘Clair Austin’, a yellow and white respectively. I have a climbing ‘Getrude Jekyll’ waiting in a pot, I need to build its planter.  The clematis montanas in the nearest two planters have both grown on vigorously, to the point where I now think I need to add two or three more wire supports higher up. I am hoping for some early flowers next year.

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Front Garden

Borders 7, 8 and 9.  Yet more bulbs have gone in here, tulips mostly.  Some of my stock of alliums will go in here in the spring.  I tend to use the front garden as a bit of a dumping ground for spare plants. This is fine, the state of the front garden just a couple of years back is still a recent enough memory that literally anything is better than that.  Judging by my current overstock situation, I shall have plenty of options to freshen up the planting come spring time.  I have to decide what to do about the frankly useless bit of lawn that is left. After all my tree-dithering, it has occurred to me that the cornus kousa that I rejected for the back garden might go very well in here, just where the lawn is now. I would need to have a think about how best to use and access the whole space if I do that.  A nice problem to have. Next door have sold their house, leaving me with some hope that I might be able to persuade our new neighbours to let me dig up the hated forsythia on our boundary and replace with a fence, all the better for me to grow stuff up.

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That concludes the tour for this month.

I’ll be back in the bleak midwinter with another Border Patrol.

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