Border Patrol is a monthly series in which I, um, patrol my borders. I’m looking for what works well, what needs attention, what needs to come out. The bigger picture, if you like. Let’s take a spin.

Rear Garden

First the overhead shot, taken by a passing swarm of sleepy wasps. With all the rain in recent weeks, things are looking lush but slovenly. Plants are sprawling about the place without regard to their proper place or orientation. I need to do a better job of staking or supporting next year.


The Patio Border – Still looking pretty good overall, some things are starting to look past their best. I need to clear out the scruffier loking annuals, mostly the tagetes ‘cinnabar’. They are still in flower but much more sporadic now, the overall effect is now untidy, I think. I will leave the cosmos till the frost gets them, they still look ok to me. I am missing an entire clump of tall asters. I can see the purple “St Michael” aster, but the “Star of Chester” are missing in action. Both were growing fine earlier in the year so I think the latter has collapsed under heavy rain. I’m also worried about the cercis canadensis which I think has been weakened by scale insects this year. I had noticed a sticky residue on the leaves. Hopefully it will recover next year.




The Sunny Border – The cotinus has gone bananas, the longest stems are easily 12ft tall. I’m debating whether to leave it unpruned next year and go for the smoke for which it is named. I’m less and less convinced by the loosestrife and physocarpus. They have both been there a long time, both are underwhelming. While we’re on the subject, the lobelia tupa has probably outstayed its welcome. It is quite a statuesque plant but does not stand up well (literally) to wet weather. It is now sprawling about the place like Jacob Rees-Mogg. In fact, effective immediately, this border is on notice. I don’t love much of it, I am certain I can find/grow better plants. So there.




The Wisteria Border (incorporating the Eye of Sauron) – As has been the case for a while, the outer areas, newly planted 15 months ago, are looking great, but the older areas behind the new seating area are not. There are some highlights, the ricinus, canna and tithonia are all attempting to hide its blushes. I have planted some young salvia and some verbena but those won’t help much till next year. Some reorganising definitely in order here. I have about a billion bulbs to plant, so that will zuzz up the spring look a little. The wisteria itself is extraordinarily vigourous this year – it has grown 20′ into the nearby apple tree. This probably isn’t good for the tree, I need to watch out for it next year.




The Lilac border – this month I have planted out some trollius chinensis and some primula vialli, just to bulk up the underplanting a little. I will add a bunch o’ bulbs in here too, and perhaps a few geranium divisions too. It’s not bad overall, but definitely a work in progress.


The Shady Border – there is still a big abelia-shaped gap into which I have thrown random plants. Despite the backdrop of rampant jasmine, the border lacks height in this area, I must look out for something interesting that can plug the gap. The rest of the border is unchanged, including the now sickly looking dogwood, a shadow of its former self. Not sure what’s up with it. Looking at it critically, the border is bookended by gaps. More planting opportunities. Some tall ferns perhaps?





The Hibiscus Border – The rudbeckia are the fading stars of the show, and the geraniums are having a welcome second flush. The helenium are betraying my makeshift support, really more of a lashing together than structurally helpful. No dramatic changes required in here, aside from the addition of beaucoup de bulbs.


The Side Alley – I have been more diligent with the watering so the container plants are looking less parched. The roses have flowered sporadically since their first flush, but it is their first year. Better things next year I expect. I need to replant the bottom tier of the ferny living wall thingy. Actually I have half a mind to rebuild it to use the space more efficiently, I think I could fir another shelf in. The geraniums, ‘Bevan’s Variety’ on the shady side have been very vigorous since being cut back post-flowers, they have totally obscured the hostas with which they cohabit.





The Front Garden

The ricinus have grown on nicely, a couple are a good 6′ tall, just in time to be cut short by the frost, normally a visitor by mid-october round these parts. The fence climbers have been fabulous this month, with both the clematis tangutica and the mina lobata topping the fence and flowering profusely. My aim next year will be to cover the whole fence, not just these two panels. The rest of the planting is also doing well. I have inserted some verbena bananarama, verbena hastata and some salvia amistad, just to add to the fun. A recurring theme, I will also add a bunch o’ bulbs here once the perennials die back enough for me to see what’s what. Still enjoying the front garden immensely.





That concludes the tour. What do you think?

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