Border Patrol is a monthly review of my garden, border by border, rather than plant by plant. It’s an opportunity to have a think about what is working, what’s not, what could be moved or changed. A zooming out. It’s also fun to look back at the older posts and see how the gardens have changed over time. Shall we take a spin round the garden then?

Rear Garden

First the overhead shot, taken by a passing plant delivery drone. With the recent combination of sunshine and rain, the garden is looking rather lush. One might even say verdant.

Having resolved to take no more lawn (this year), and having exhausting (nearly) all the available planting space, I’ve taken to planting up pots. I’ve used whatever I had handy, many are just plastic florist buckets. A combination of annuals and perennials, I’m hoping it will all fill out and create a fake border. I’m also hoping we’ll still be able to get up and down the steps!

The Patio Border – it’s a game of two halves. I’m almost 100% happy with the view in the first picture, the nearer half of the border is looking very good, nice and full, the way I like it. There is a bit of a gap, just in front of the cosmos on the lower left of the first picture, but otherwise I’m happy. The two trellis are being slowly colonised from below and above by various climbers. The two roses, one on each trellis, are growing well but are obscured by taller plants at the moment. I even spy flowers if I get close enough to them, but for now I just want them to put on good growth so I can start to train them in this winter. The other end of this border is less good, I feel. It does look pretty full, but that is a temporary effect, courtesy of the poppies. When they come out, things may look a bit sparse. I have planted lots of plants in that corner area, and they will fill out a bit, so perhaps I’m concerned unnecessarily. We shall see.

The Sunny Border – The shrubs and other plants have grown on a lot in the last month. The lobelia tupa is 2′ taller, the tallest it has ever been. It often sprawls about under its own weight, so I’m pleased I had time to provide some support, just canes and string. It is standing up well – result! The roses and climbers along the fence continue to do a solid job. I’m particularly pleased with the combination at the left end, the two clematis together fully cover the fence panel. This is what I want down the whole fence line, so the others need to get a move on. There are opportunities to improve the main border too, I think. There is a good space in front of the the red rose in the middle picture. It has a couple of dahlia in it but they have been shredded by slugs and will be useless this year. I think I will dig them up and try to keep them in pots next year where I can watch out for them a bit better. I have some dianthus coming which could go in the front row there, and later in the year I have some foxgloves to plant out, grown from seed this year. I do still have some annual climbers to plant, I’ve been holding off as they are still small. I will just plant them and be damned, either they will work or they won’t. Some of them are perennial anyway, so perhaps they will at least grow some roots and come out swinging next year.

The Wisteria Border, incorporating the Eye of Sauron – I’ve had a bit of a revelation in the last day or two. I think I need to move many of the plants on the lawn side of the Eye border to the other side of the circle. Possibly. What I really need to do is sit down with a pencil and graph paper and plan the whole area out properly. I have planted a few things on the wisteria side, including three ginger plants that I grew from seed last year. They are quite small still so not yet making an impact. There are still many unsatisfactory gaps in the original border, along the trellis line. Still, it is difficult not to enjoy the overall effect when it is so jungly. I wish I knew how to stop canna getting munched. Snails, I think, eat a line of holes which makes it look like the leaf has been involved in a drive-by shooting. Often the end of the leaf falls off or folds over unattractively. I must take that wisteria in hand, its summer prune is overdue!

The Lilac Border – the slightly random collection of plants is beginning to fill the expanded space. The height of some of them is all wrong, some things need moving, but for now it can wait. Along with the Shady Border, this one is now hooked up to the irrigation system. It gets watered for 15 minutes every other day. Seems to be working well. The rest of the garden is having to wait, for want of some inexpensive parts for which I have been waiting for months now. In general, I’m happy with the height, partly given by the wisteria and clematis which serve as backdrop, plus the joe pye weed and the fatsia in the corner. Compared to how it was in its smaller incarnation, I’m pretty happy with it.

The Shady Border – also expanded in the last month or two, lots of plants have gone in here, including the two new shrubs. The viburnum tinus seems to be settling in nicely, putting on some new growth. I have taken cuttings, so may have baby shrubs to grow on. The camellia is looking less happy, although only in that it is flopping about a bit. Perhaps I need to give it support while it is still young. I spy spaces that could usefully be filled. I have cuttings brewing of some of the other plants in this border so I may be able to use those later in the year. It may be that there is room for another shade tolerant shrub.

The Hibiscus Border – At the base of the trellis is a recently planted rose, William Lobb. Like its counterparts on the other side of the steps, it is growing well and flowering, not that you’d know it unless right on top of it. Still, the important point is that it is growing well. As usual, the hibiscus is nowhere to be seen. It is next to the brick pillar in the middle of the photo, behind the tall clump of helenium. I’d move it, but I think they eventually get quite big. Maybe I’ll move it later in the year anyway, I can always move it back again if it does embiggen.

The Side Passage

The left side as you look at it in the first photo is very shady. Full shade all day. I have ordered a new rose for the container nearest the gate. Souvenir de Docteur Jamain is a climber, shade tolerant (in fact it requires shade) and very fragrant. I’m looking forward to next year already! In that same container are a crowd of geranium ‘ingwersens variety’ which have been given their annual haircut. They will be back with a vengeance in a few weeks. The side passage will be first on the list to get hooked up to the irrigation when the pesky parts arrive. I find I forget to water them and they do dry out pretty fast.

Front Garden

I have removed some taller plants, believe it or not. The angelica and some of the foxgloves had reached the end of their useful life. In their place I have planted about 50 gladioli that I got at bargain price in the end of the end of season sale – a bag of 24 for £1! They are just starting to come through now so it will be late summer this year before they do anything, but next year should be fabulous. I think there is room on that fence line for another rose/clematis combination. I have a good size cutting of rose ‘the Pilgrim’ ready to go, plus a clematis of uncertain provenance, bought unlabelled. I think I will plant those and see what happens. There is still the odd empty space, and the planting nearest the house needs some rethinking. I also notice that the dianthus nearest the drive is all dried out, clearly the fabled irrigation isn’t making it that far, or perhaps it is just on its last legs. Those plants are several years old now. Anyhow, for the most part I remain very happy with how it all looks.

Finally, my colonised bit of verge. The dahlia on the left hand side is enormous this year. it seems to like the very sandy soil and is untroubled by our slimy friends. This bit of ground gets the discarded spindly results of my overpropagation, so if it looks at all good it’s very much luck not judgement.

That’s it for June. I’ll be back in a month for another Border Patrol.