Border Patrol is my monthly review of the garden, what works, what doesn’t what’s changing, likes and dislikes. It’s good to take a step back from time to time. Let’s take a spin, shall we?

Rear Garden

First the overhead shot, brought to you in composite by aggregating images downloaded from a swarm of passing bees. The observant among you will note the new tree and the morsel of lawn that was sacrificed for the cause. The crab apple looks good there, I think, and will obviously grow into the space a little. Well, a lot, eventually, but we’ll either have moved house, or it can come out if it gets overbearing. I’ve added a clematis ‘The President’ to the same area, a cutting rooted last year from one of my plants. My hope is that will grow up into the malus and adorn it with flowers. I’ve done a similar thing with the amelanchier actually, that one is c. ‘Princess Kate’. The lawn is looking less mucked about with, although I don’t think much of the seed I sowed has germinated, it was so cold during April. I’ve just mown it short and may sow again, just in case, I have plenty of seed spare. I finished the mulching job I started in March, having bought in 900 litres of Black Gold, a mix of soil improver and composted manure. I had plenty for a good thick layer and some left over for the tomatoes when I pot them up in their 20L tubs.

Patio Steps – a tulip special. I am resolved to double down next year. The tulips have been (are) great, but I want more! Now that I have plenty of those robust 20L pots, there’s simply no excuse for insufficient tulips.

Patio Pots – last month I bought two quite nice pots from the garden centre. One remains empty, but one now contains a hibiscus, moved from the eponymous border in the garden. Tulips are the main event at the moment, the 20L pots doing good service and largely invisible despite their utilitarian appearance. I plan to use them as extra planting space, extending the borders on to the patio. I did a bit of that last year, it worked quite well.

The Patio Border – things are slowly returning to life. It has been a cold month, with the most frosts recorded in April since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were battling for the number one spot. The tall alliums, ‘Summer Drummer’, are now quite tall and still growing. Some have scapes on so flowers to follow, I trust.

The Sunny Border. I remember feeling a bit indifferent about aspects of this border last year. I will be on the lookout for gaps or unsatisfactory plants. I have plenty of other plants waiting in the wings, and more seedlings on the go in the greenhouse, including many annual climbers that could do a tour of duty as fence coverings. The roses and clematis are mostly looking very good this year, I’m expecting a good show from them.

The Wisteria Border, incorporating the Eye of Sauron. The wisteria sinensis is about to do it’s thing. I thought I had got away with the frosts this month, but on closer inspection there are certainly some buds that will not bloom. Most seem to be OK though, and are in the early stages of unfurling. Like the sunny border, I shall be adopting a zero tolerance approach to underwhelming plants in this border. There is a broom in the corner which I no longer appreciate. It will come out later this month I think, once it has finished flowering. It is adding nothing to proceedings for 95% of the year. I might also be able to plant a clematis in that corner. Since last time I have dug up some iris from the left side of the front border and moved them to the right side, just because they were a bit on top of other things. I might remove them altogether but they were grown from seed so one has a soft spot for them. I’ve also planted an astrantia ‘roma’ near the end of the same section of border. I’ve never had much luck with astrantia, so let’s see what this one does. I do love the daffodils and the other bulbs while they are in flower, but like their allium friends, the foliage is a right mess and I can’t wait for it to die back.

The Lilac Border. I might plant another clematis, or a rose, or both (!) in the space on the left of the trellis. There is a clematis ‘rebecca’ just to the left of the lilac but she doesn’t cover the whole of her section, and needs some help, I think. Alternatively, I could just use some of the annual climbers I’m trying to grow from seed this year. Let’s see how many I end up with. I do have a few young climbing rose plants grown from cuttings, and a few “spare” clematis. Decisions, decisions. I still might have a bit of a move around in this border, but haven’t got around to it yet. I have begun to research shade loving shrubs for the gap between the fatsia and the viburnum, but haven’t made up my mind yet, so a gap it remains for now. I need to get on with it before the garden gets on top of me, which it inevitably will.

The Shady Border. All looking very smart with the fresh mulch, the perennial plantings are beginning to poke through again. I’m gratified to see that there are spaces, I have plenty of plants that could go in here, especially in the front row which is more partial than full shade. The camellia is flowering away. I wish it was a bigger plant, but that will come. Eventually. Talking of small plants that need to be bigger, the chinese rhubarb is beginning to grow. Like Dickens, I have great expectations of this plant, it should get quite large and have impressive leaves. My biggest achievement of the month was fixing (actually replacing) the leaky tap. I forgot to wrap them over the winter so frost go to this one. Its steady and increasingly frequent dripping was a constant admonishment every time I was in the garden. It was a relief to fix it.

The Hibiscus Border. This is now a badly named border since the aforementioned hibiscus is in a pot now, merely near this border, no longer in it. Never mind, the name has probably stuck now. The moss rose is doing quite nicely, but isn’t quite tall enough yet to train properly. I’ll let it grow this year and see how it is. When I removed the hibiscus I added a clematis ‘Polish Spirit’. It’s not really visible in this picture but it is growing very vigorously and I expect it to do a good job on the trellis this year. Of the fuchsia planted in the planting place of doom* there is still no sign. May it rest in peace. I am determined to get something, anything, to grow up that flipping trellis. Maybe I need to use a pot, half buried perhaps. I think I will be adding plants to this border soon, once the alliums have decided whether they are growing or not.

*at the base of the smaller trellis on the brick pillar.

The Front Garden. I’ve been doing a lot of weeding in here, it seems to be a proper breeding ground for them. The fence is looking pretty bare, although the left side is increasingly covered by 2 clematis and the abutilon (which is in bud!). I do have a new rose and a climbing fuchsia that is just emerging, but I think there is room for the much mentioned annual climbers here. The border by the window will get totally replanted I think, I’ve grown bored with the white penstemons, and the potentilla just spreads everywhere. It’s good to change things up from time to time.

That’s it for this month, I’ll be back in a few weeks with another Border Patrol.