Border Patrol is a monthly series in which I take a step back, or try to, to look at the borders overall. What works, what am I happy with, what could do with a refresh, what is a mess, that type of thing.  It is also a handy record of the gardening year and interesting to compare to previous years.

Rear Garden

Let’s start with the overhead shot, taken by a daring trapeze artist.  Overall there is still plenty going on, with good colour in places.


The Patio Border – This border is still the star of the show in the back garden. I’m pretty happy with it. I’m a little worried about the cercis canadensis which is now a little swamped, a victim of my cavalier attitude to plant spacing. In fact, there are several plants which have more or less disappeared in this jumble. Somewhere in there are some imperata cylindrica red baron grasses, crocosmia and some nice perennial viola. Hopefully I can rescue them and move somewhere else. On the right, either side of the ricinus (3rd photo) should be some tall asters which I intended to plug that gap height-wise. My inadequate supporting has meant they have flopped over so won’t be performing quite as desired. Something to watch out for next year. I must also remember to take some basal cuttings of the asters in the spring.




The Sunny Border  – The cotinus is growing strangely this year. The only thinG I am aware of being different this year is I cut it back less strongly, leaving more of the framework. It is very uneven now and not especially attractive. Its days may be numbered. I think I need to refresh the bedding dahlias. I grew this batch from seed a few years ago. The monarda is also disappearing. The roses and clematis have been less impressive than I hoped, although better than last year. I think I will add some annual climbers to join them on the fenceline. They have been very good in the front garden, more on that later.  Talking of climbers, I note some stray bindweed has escaped my attentions. Doesn’t matter how much of it I dig up in the spring…



The Wisteria Border (incorporating the Eye of Sauron) – this is a game of two halves. I’m still fairly happy with the newer borders surrounding the Eye, but the original wisteria border is still looking sparse since the poppies were removed. As each month passes I think more and more that I need to re-plant this area, encouraged by the success of the Patio Border this year. I have plenty of small plants, plus no doubt I will pick up more in the end of season sales. One thing for me to bear in mind, this border is now fairly shaded. The wisteria is now extremely vigorous, plus there is an element of shading from the other side of the Eye.




The Lilac Border – I still think there is room to stuff more plants in here. I have some astrantia that might be happier in here. I shall have a think over the next few months. There is a decent clump of aster ‘little carlow’ which is not yet flowering, no doubt that will improve things.


The Shady Border – There are a few sparser areas of this border, but otherwise it is pretty densely planted, what with the shrubs and various underplanting. If I was starting from scratch I might change it wholesale but I can’t be bothered to remove the big shrubs. Having said that, the dogwood is in league with the cotinus in the Sunny border, growing very slowly this year for some reason. I am certain I could have more interesting shade tolerant plants in here, so perhaps I do need to have a re-think. No hurry.






The Hibiscus Border – The hibiscus is missing in action, hidden behind the rudbeckia and helenium. To add insult to injury I think it flowered while I was on holiday. Perhaps I need to rename the border. I might tinker with this border over the winter, and it could definitely stand to have some bulbs inserted, but otherwise I’m happy with how the extension has turned out.


The Side Alley – I really need to sort out the irrigation. The planters on the sunny side dry out pretty quick, plus I suspect vine weevils, so one or two of the planters are looking pretty sorry for themselve. Even the normally bullet proof clematis montana. I will have to investigate nematodes next year. Still, the overall effect is still positive, much nicer than the bare walls of yesteryear.



Front Garden

Another highlight for me this year, the front garden has a pleasingly stuffed look just now. The carefully planned and surfaced path has all but disappeared among the expanding plants. I’m particularly pleased with the fenceline where the annual climbers are doing a good job covering the fence. There are several roses and clematis along there too, new this year, but they are yet to make their presence felt in any meaningful way. I will definitely do more annual climbers next year, and no doubt I’ll dabble with the planting, but overall I’m a happy camper. I confess to a modicum of pride when I catch passersby pausing to have a gander at the front garden. It was mostly lawn a couple of years ago, and weedy with it. A vast improvement, gold stars for me, and the bees agree.






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