I think we can say things are afoot. The second half of February has been glorious with warmish daytime temperatures but still a good number of frosty nights. The warmth and increasing daylight hours are having effects in the borders, with bulbs flowering and new growth emerging in places. I have been making a difference too, removing unloved plants, adding new ones and pruning back the unruly.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Rear Garden

We’ll start with the aerial shot, taken by drone from 200 feet. Ha, I wish, taken by me holding my phone out of my daughter’s bedroom window. The tide of winter’s brown is being turned ever so gradually by incoming green. A welcome sight. The observant among you may have noticed that I have softened the corner of Border 1 and Border 2 in the bottom left of the photo. I’d like to do the same where Border 2 meets the Eye off Sauron but the snowdrops (a bit pathetic though they are) are in the way.

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Border 1, the patio border. For a while now I have been saying I would strip the plants out of this border and start again. I finally got around to it earlier this month so it is year zero for this border. I have been busy planting. I had a rough plan but mainly I have been plonking plants in and hoping for the best. I figure I can always move things if needed. As you can see from the pots I still have some to do, and more to add once the annuals are sown and ready to go out. A good start.

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Border 2, the sunny border. The roses are all pruned, de-leafed and trained, the clematis are all cut back to a decent set of low buds and the shrubs are all pruned back. I have been less severe with the cotinus this year, leaving a couple of feet of the strongest stems rather than cutting it back to the trunk as I usually do. This should raise the canopy a little and give a better display. I guess we’ll find out. I have planted a few things in this border and still have some to do, a mixed bag of bargain plants. Geraniums, mostly.

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Border 3, the wisteria border, incorporating the Eye of Sauron. Colour! Ok the daffs are out, but more exciting, so are the crocus. I think these will be the ones I planted back in October, having run out of space in the pots. There are about another 100 I planted in January that are beginning to poke through – they may or may not flower this year, I hope they do. I am gratified to see last year’s salvias are all putting out new growth at ground level. I wasn’t sure if they would survive the winter. They are mostly caradonna with some blue angel and another I don’t recall. Amethyst something, maybe? I have a handful of salvia amistad to plant out here too. I also see that the geum ‘totally tangerine’ are looking vigorous. I divided them on planting and they have sulked ever since. Hopefully they have got over themselves and will do the needful flowering for which they are so justly renowned. I will stuff more plants in here, I have a few dozen plants to go in. Last year was pretty good, I am excited about this area this year. No pressure.

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Border 4, the lilac border. The titular lilac is budding up, and the crappy rosemary has gone to the great compost heap in the sky. Like its partner in crime from Border 1, it was a gnarly sprawly thing and taking up too much real estate. I have kept a portion of it, potted up out of sight, this will meet our need for fresh rosemary for now. I have also taken cuttings with the aim of growing one on the patio and keeping it tidy. I will add more plants in here this year too. I have a couple of ligularia that might be happy here.

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Border 5, the shady border. No changes here apart from a good prune – the physocarpus and the cornus have had their annual shearing. I am still looking at the abelia with a critical eye. I pruned it hard last year and while it has responded with new growth, it is not a good shape. I think it needs more light. It might have to go. It is occupying a spot that might be better served by foxgloves, lupins or rudbeckia.

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Border 6, the xxx border. I still don’t have a name for it. It might be the hibiscus border. Or it might be the geranium border. I think I will wait until I can see what the dominant feature is. Anyhow, I have been planting in here. Some geranium, some rudbeckia, stachys, a hypericum, bits and bobs. I have also dotted some allium about between other things. Like much else in the garden at the moment, a work in progress.

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Finally, the now-monthly shot down the garden from Border 3 to 2.

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Side passage

I include for completeness, not much is visibly different from last month. I am looking forward to this year as new roses, clematis and other climbers get more established. It should smell fantastic, nearly everything I planted has a strong fragrance. On the shady side, I have cleared the far planter and intend to fill it with hosta, I have fifteen waiting for a spot. I might have room for a few in the near planter, I’ll wait till the incumbent hosta show themselves.

Front garden.

I include a shot from above, employing a similar technique to the rear. Border 7 is nearest the house, Border 8 to the right next to the hated forsythia, Border 9 by the front wall.

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Borders 7, 8 and 9.
A bit the poor cousin compared to the back garden, I expect the front will simply be the repository, the dumping ground, for spare plants of which there will be plenty. The pheasants tail grass is getting a bit out of control. I’ll either dig it up and replace with a younger model, or chop it back. It is obscuring a few things including an acanthus mollis which has bestirred itself over the winter. Aside from my residual desire to get shot of the forsythia, I’m pretty happy with the front garden. I do still have half a mind to change the layout, doing away with the lawn in the process. In an idle moment I may sketch out a design. We’ll see.

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That’s that for another month.

I’ll be back at the end of March for another Border Patrol.