In this monthly series I ponder the borders as a whole, sometimes the whole garden. It is good to stand back from time to time, take in the broader aspect, think about what is working well, what should come out, what needs to change, that kind of malarkey.
Let’s take a spin.
We shall start with the overhead shot, taken by passing blue tits. Every time I look out of the window for this photo I eye up that bit of grass to the left of the path. If I can be bothered, it will go this year. It’s a lot of turf so I might need a skip or something, I already have bag loads of turf rotting down into nice loam for goodness knows what purpose. The new crocuses are most in evidence around the washing line. They haven’t really opened up a great deal, but I note that those planted the year before have been much better. Perhaps they just need to settle down. The lawn badly needs mowing and de-thatching. I suppose I shall have to start that rigmarole again soon. Since taking these photos I have cleared away what remains of last year’s perennials and have also pruned the shrubs which need it. Considering the amount of rain we have had, the soil is very workable. It is certainly on the moist side, but definitely not waterlogged. This bodes well for the dahlias and cannas that I left in over the winter.
The Patio Border – The crocuses surrounding the cercis canadensis are a triumph, although they are rather bullying the neighbouring hellebores. I still want to add a bunch of alliums into this part of the border. If I do put my money where my mouth is, all that grass will go, leaving plenty of planting space. It will probably mean I have to move some things about, and I’ll need to think about maintenance access as the border will be a good 12 feet deep.
On Saturday I put 20 or so allium ‘purple sensation’ into this part of the border. I also removed the diseased and unhappy cotinus ‘grace’ from its corner spot. That’s the second one I’ve had, both died after a few years. I conclude they don’t like my conditions. Now I need to buy something a decent size that can go in its place. Hmmm….
The Sunny Border – That physocarpus has been pruned back, in what always feels like a vicious process but it always responds well. The clematis and roses behind and to the left of it are doing well, putting out new growth. I’ll soon be spending large chunks of my weekends tying it all in. I have started the process of loading this border with alliums, of which I still have oodles left. I quite often put my trowel through an unmarked dahlia tuber, so hopefully they aren’t terminally damaged. If so, to be honest, I won’t shed too many tears, they are a bit of a pain to manage. Things are just getting going in this border, positively throbbing with potential garden energy.
The Wisteria Border, incorporating the Eye of Sauron – in common with the other sunnier borders I have added some alliums to the back-ish of this border. I want to plant the shorter a. ‘christophii’ towards the front, as much for their skeletons as for their fireworks.
The Lilac Border – I am in wait and see mode with this one. I may (will) chop and change a few things once they get going. To be honest, I’ve largely forgotten what’s in here, which tells you something. If it was any good I’d be looking forward to it all coming back.
The Shady Border – I still haven’t planted the second clematis montana in this border. I want to cover the fence. I’m happier with the far end of this border, the first picture. Give it a few weeks and it will have filled out a fair bit, lots of things are reaching for the light. The three ferns should get quite tall, the phlox at the back are coming through now, the begonia should fill out and there are some shade-tolerant geraniums and lungworts just emerging.
This end though? Underwhelming. In the middle of the picture you can see what I fear is a diseased and unhappy dogwood. I’ve had it for about 15 years and it did uncharacteristically badly last year, plus it has some fungus growing on it. I will dig it up before next month’s post. Honest. This will leave me with the happy task of finding a reasonably mature shade-tolerant shrub, evergreen perhaps. Look at the state of that weigela! Never been pruned. Every year when it flowers I tell myself to prune it back once it’s done, I never remember. I should stick to the Christopher Lloyd rule – the right time to prune anything is when you remember and have 5 minutes spare.
The Hibiscus Border – Doesn’t look like much, I’ll grant you, but things are afoot in here. Geraniums are coming into growth, as is the purple persicaria, tulips are teasing me (will they flower a 2nd year, who knows), late daffs are on their way, plus the returning alliums. I am also pleased to see three sidalcia which I grew from seeds last year doing much better than their freshman year. I have a clematis macropetala ‘Jan Lindmark’ that would do quite well against that little bit of trellis, I shall plant it this weekend. It flowers fairly early with pretty purple/blue double flowers. Every time I think that this border is an unsatisfactory size, I remember how tiny it was before I tripled the planting area. Never happy…
I’m excited about the front garden this year. After last year’s random planting things have settled in, plus I have plenty of room to add annuals in the border and climbers too. I used some recently acquired shreeded willow tree to re-line the path. It looks rather bright but will soon fade into the background as it darkens.
That red pot is actually part of our Christmas tree stand which has sat there in exactly that spot since I wrestled it from the end of the tree almost exactly two months ago.
This is the view from the pavement.
That’s your lot for February.
I will be back in a month when Spring ought well and truly to have sprung.