In this monthly series I contemplate the overall shape of the garden and the borders in it. What is working, what needs changing, what could I add and where? At the end of March, bulbs are in charge, but other plants are ready to pounce.
Let’s take a spin.
First the overhead view, taken by migrating birds, maintaining strict social distancing. Can you spot the difference? I’ll give you a minute to think about it.
That’s right. The climbing frame has gone! It was rarely used and has gone up the road to a family with much younger children. Judging by the squealing, they are making vigorous use of it. More importantly, that corner is now liberated. I have two daft patches of crocus that I need to think about dispersing and I think I will soften that right angle corner. I need to think about the shape of lawn I want, and that area to the left of the path is still “at risk”.
The Patio Border – the bulbs are making most of the running. It’s a shame the foliage is such a hot mess once the flowers are done, but I’m willing to put up with it. I had a revelation the other day. I could attach trellis to each of the wooden planters on the patio and run a clematis/rose combination up it, planted in the border. It just so happens I have some suitable plants handy. Of course I do. I am still pondering the lawn in this corner. It might well go entirely in the fullness of time, but for now I think I will soften the corner directly in front of the red pot. It’s meant to be a soft curve but looks quite sharp. What are the odds of me getting carried away and taking a few feet of lawn away in the process? I’ll leave that to you to calculate, but I’m not taking your bet.
The Sunny Border – last year I was moaning that this border looked a bit scruffy by mid-summer. I haven’t really given much thought as to what to do about it. I will have plants I can use to zuzz it up a bit. I have not yet replaced the cotinus that I removed last month. For this year I may just take advantage of the space and simply stuff that corner with plants. I think it will be a good year for the roses and clematis on the fence line. They are all putting out vigorous new growth. As I speculated last month, the tying in has begun. It’s a tedious job but well worth it to get the best from climbing plants. I’m hoping the roses throw out nice long stems so I can tie them in to the upper wires on the fence – they’ve done a good job with the lower two or three wires.
The Wisteria Border (incorporating the Eye of Sauron) – I have finally finished planting out the alliums, a goodly number of which went in this border. I haven’t spotted too many poppy seedlings. The ‘laurens grape’ were fantastic last year. I did sow seed but then covered it with a thick layer of mulch. I should probably fork over the top layer so any buried seeds are exposed. I expect I’ll soon be cursing the hordes of unwanted seedlings. I have more poppy seed that I must sow, well remembered. I think there’s room for another clematis on this trellis. The wisteria is budding up, won’t be long now before it is in flower. If I remember rightly I was happy last year with the front planting area, this side of the circle, but less so with the back. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.
The Lilac Border – Still a bit ‘meh’. There’s not enough height in this border to fill out the gap under the lilac. The clematis on the trellis will make a difference once it gets going properly, not long now. The conifer hedge behind is getting very scruffy. I was given a cordless hedge trimmer recently so I will have a go at it this weekend. I need to take a couple of feet off the top as well, I think. I also need to deal with the trellis posts which have rotted at the base.
The Shady Border – I have planted a clematis montana, a cutting from an existing plant, to the left of the hard-pruned physocarpus in the first picture. I will train it along the fence. I am expecting to provide a green backdrop for the rest of the planting, and of course it will flower for a month or two in the spring. It is small right now but should grow on fast now it’s in the ground. I also have a shade-tolerant climbing rose in mind for a similar role further up the border. I have removed the diseased dogwood, so there is a big gap to fill. I have a long list of potential replacements to choose from.
The Hibiscus Border – the stachys ‘big ears’ is doing very well, very lush growth, perhaps I’ll get some flowers this year too. I have plonked more alliums in here, and like the patio border, I think I could stand a trellis against that planter and get a rose going. I have a Lady Emma Hamilton which would be perfect in there. I finally got around to planting a clematis at the base of the brick pillar. It doesn’t look particularly happy, honestly, but I’ll water it and give it a feed to cheer it up. It is flowering now, sort of. I’m sure it will be more useful next year. As you can see the patio steps and surrounding are lined with tulip pots. They are just getting going, the next few weeks should be very colourful.
I remain very happy with the front garden. It is filling out nicely and I still have a few spaces to stuff more plants in. I am also planning an outrageous land grab on the pavement side of my front wall. I already have plants in there, but there is still quite a bit of very weedy grass. The neighbourhood would surely benefit much more from plants and flowers? Course it would.
That’s it for now. April is a great month in the garden, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be back in a few weeks with another Border Patrol.