We are at the back end of Spring now and the garden is beginning to look very lush and full, although I seem to be able to find spaces in which to stuff more plants. I’m really pleased with how the garden is developing this year, I think it’s the best it has ever been. I’m particularly happy with the front garden which has undergone something of a transformation in the last couple of months. In this monthly series I try to look at the borders as a whole – what’s working, what’s not, what might need adding, what needs to be, um, edited out. Let’s take a spin, shall we?
First the view from above, taken from a passing concorde. Annoyingly it doesn’t quite fit in one photo and I haven’t figured out how to stitch them together into one large one.
The Patio Border – this is filling in nicely, I think. In the first photo it’s clear that some back-of-border height is needed. There are several tall asters, but there’s room for more. I have some Ricinus that I plan to put in here once they have grown on a bit. When I think back to how much I hated this border before, just a few months back, with the dull, uninteresting plants that were doing nothing together or individually, it’s quite a change. There was some real estate at the very edges into which I have planted some nemophila and erigeron. They are sparse just now but I hope they will soon bulk up. The really great thing about this border is how few of the plants are actually flowering – there’s a show to come.
The Sunny Border. Well, the hoped for coverage of fence by the roses and clematis has happened, sort of, up to a point. The first clematis is Mme Julia Correvon, getting to a good 10′ this year. Rather than have her flop over the top, I have trained the longest stems out to the right, horizontally. It has responded by putting out new vertical growth from almost every leaf node, all of which should bear flowers. I seem to have stumbled on a good idea (I strongly doubt I am the first to have it). This border is looking pretty well stuffed too. The dahlias have mostly come back from their winter sleep and are growing on strong. I need to stake them. I have some annual climbers which could fight for light along the fence line, and like the Patio Border, some height would be nice, a ricinus or two stuffed in here perhaps. I am growing tithonia from seed but they are coming on very slowly. I wonder if the seed is no good this year. I’ve sown another batch – the remains of the original packet and more that I collected from plants grown last year. I hope it bucks up its ideas as it is a good height and flowers till the frost.
The Wisteria Border, incorporating the Eye of Sauron. It was about 10 months ago that I planted the newly dug borders around the new seating area. It has come on leaps and bounds since then. I really enjoy sitting at the table with a cuppa, the ominous but somehow friendly sound of a small army of buzzy insects doing their thing. The planting has grown quite tall – the foxgloves and thalictrum in particular, providing some sense of being surrounded, exactly the effect I was hoping for. At the moment I can’t think of a single thing I’d change. I have recently added some plants in the gaps – a mix of things – some sidalcea, cosmos, a lupin or two. As is its wont at this time of year, the wisteria is going loco, sending out questing stems in every direction. I will give it the summer prune in a few weeks, although some of the more annoying ones may find themselves lopped ahead of schedule.
The Lilac Border. The lilac has pretty much finished now, but it looked and smelt fabulous while it lasted. There is still plenty of room in this border. It is a bit tricky, being quite shaded at one end and partially at the other end, as well as being quite moist as it is at the bottom of the hill (well, slight slope). The eurybia divaricata (white wood aster) is doing well at the far end, slightly crowding out some polemonium and the rodgersia which is trying to poke through. This border could definitely do with some more bulb action next year. Some more alliums for sure, perhaps some daffodils too. This border is the least stuffed of them all. I just have to find/grow the right plants for the spot.
The Shady Border. The shrubs are slow to get going, to the point that I worry I’ve finally pruned the red dogwood to the death it has often threatened. I expect it will be fine, I can see some new growth in a couple of places. The fence is an opportunity, I think I have mentioned this before. I have a couple of clematis montana ‘marjorie’ which will do just fine along the fence. If I planted them now they would quickly cover the fence. I just want them to grow on a little first. I have jammed more underplanting in this border. The white foxgloves work very well here, they stand out well in the shade. Shame about the collapse!
The Hibiscus Border. The titular hibiscus, over on the right at the back, has finally put on some leaf. It looks a little sickly, with some yellowing to the leaves. I’m hoping it just needs a feed up. Again, I’m pretty pleased with this expanded border, previously a bit of a useless scrap, messily planted.
Finally, we’ll leave the back garden with the view from the bottom, looking round the edge of the Eye, up the Sunny Border and a little of the Patio Border.
The Side Passage.
I’m pretty pleased with nearly all the planters on the sunnier side of the passage. The clematis, roses and lonicera have all taken off, with even the newer roses doing well flower-wise in their first year. On the shadier side, the hostas are doing well and remain unmunched. The rose ‘danse de feu’ has suffered grievously from mildew, I’ve had to remove nearly all the foliage. I’m hoping it will put out some new growth and be OK, otherwise I shall have to wait till next year. The other shady planted looks ok at ground level but that wall desperately wants covering. The hyrdrangea petiolaris will eventually do just that, but could be years to get going. I might put another clematis montana in, or perhaps a shade-tolerant rose. The fern planter looks a little sad, with the bottom tier basically bare. I’m not sure why. I shall have to find some replacement ferns. It was a nice idea but it hasn’t worked out quite how I envisaged.
First the view from above, taken by a crack squadron of photo reconnaissance pigeons.
I am still busy plugging gaps in the planting, there’s still plenty of room, particularly along the fenceline. I have some delphiniums I want to put in, they’re not quite ready. I have recently planted eupatorium purpurea and angelica archangel for some height and structure, along with lupins, gladioli, heuchera, fuchsia, ricincus, anemone, poppies and a whole bunch more. Last month I had some paving stones by way of a path running in and out of the planting. I got annoyed with the way they got swamped when with muddy soil whenever I watered, defeating the object of providing a relatively safe footing. I decided to remove them and have instead put down a couple of inches of chipped bark. This does the job well and also looks a lot nicer, I think.
The Fence Border. Not a fat lot going in here yet. I planted two spare no-name roses and more recently an abutilon suntense. I have a couple of spare clematis that could go in here too. The corner by the house presents an opportunity. If I run some wires up there it would be a good spot for a climbing rose, or perhaps a rambler, or even both.
The Window Border. There was a large pheasant’s tail grass under the window, but it was flopping about and taking up too much real estate. I’ve moved it to the wall border, you’ll be able to spot it there. As a result I have some space. I put in some helenium divisions, a few lupins, some agastache, a couple of other bits and bobs. I will put some of the delphiniums in here too I think.
The Wall Border. Dominated by the hypericum and the weigela, but improved by the addition of numerous other plants. The abelia, liberated from an unsuitable spot in the back garden, is doing well here, putting on lots of new growth. I will put in more foxgloves this year, I’ve enoyed the height they bring as well as the colour.
The Keyhole Border. The area that was recently lawn is the least densely planted at the moment. There is still plenty of room for more plants, I shall fill the spaces once the plants are a good size.
The Borrowed Border. Strictly speaking not in my garden at all, carved out of the verge on the pavement side of my front wall.I am busy cultivating it anyway. It was looking pretty overgrown a few days back but I have spent time on it this week, clearing the weeds and mulching, plus I have put some plants in. It does have to fend for itself a bit, I often forget to water it! Into here I have put some salvia, calendula, berkheya, polemonium, antirrhinum, some teeny geranium seedlings.
That’s it! Lots going on, still plenty to sort out, and lots more flowers to come.
I’ll be back in a month with the next Border Patrol.