Border Patrol is my monthly look at the borders as a whole. What works, what doesn’t, opportunities, gaps, unloved plants, that type of thing.

Rear Garden

First the overhead view, courtesy of the RHS’s array of garden survey satellites (it’s a clandestine branch of GCHQ, not officially acknowledged, mum’s the word, taps nose in conspiratorial fashion). Aside from the obvious growth in the borders, there are three major differences to last month. Can you spot them? I’ll let you think about it for a few minutes…

….ok time’s up! Firstly, the lawn is in much better shape having been rained on all month. Secondly the washing line is newly vertical. Thirdly, I have edged the stones that make up the path. Over the last couple of years the grass has encroached, leaving less and less space for my feet of considerable size. Back to the borders, there isn’t much non-green colour yet, many things are several weeks behind last year after a cold April and a miserable and largely sunshine-free May. What there is a-plenty is lush growth. I think when things do catch up it’ll be quite the show. I hereby give notice, though, if I don’t get out there very soon and provide some support to the new growth, next time it rains hard it’ll all be collapsed in a near-horizontal heap.

No shot of the patio pots this month as I am between spring and summer displays, most of the pots are down the end of the garden waiting to be re-charged and sent back into battle.

The Patio Border – The alliums are out. I must add more for next spring. I’d like this border to look like someone is trying to play an allium symphony. I remain unconvinced by the cercis canadensis tree in the foreground of the first picture. I removed a couple of major (dead) branches and what is left is very slow to leaf out. If it doesn’t behave itself this summer it can come out. The cornus kousa in the back corner, on the other hand, is in much better spirits than when it arrived a year ago. It looked half dead, I almost sent it back, but a feed and watering and some recuperation seems to have done the trick. It will soon flower. I am a bit concerned about the roses planted against the trellis. Lady Emma Hamilton is on the left, Mme Isaac Pereire on the right. Both are struggling for light and unless they put on a spurt of growth this summer to compete with the surrounding plants I may have to take measures. They could come out to go in a big pot each to grow on and get put back once they can mix it up with the big boys and girls. There is quite a bit of space on the right hand side of the border, I have annuals to go in here, cosmos and calendula, plus dahlias too. It will soon appear as well stuffed as the rest of the border.

The Sunny Border – this was riddled with bindweed before I took this picture. I had let it be for 2 or 3 weeks and it took advantage, I couldn’t bear to show this to the world so spend an hour removing it first. There are a few gaps in this border, I thought there would be. I had begun to fear for the canna which is ensconced in the back of the border about level with the Eye of Sauron. There had been no sign of it until the weekend when I noticed the first spears of new growth thrusting upwards. This will give some good height and, along with the ricinus, a sense of tropical abundance. Into the gaps nearer the front could go some penstemon, or some persicaria, or even some helenium. I am spoilt for choice, there are a large number of plants orbiting, waiting for a landing slot. Rose ‘Ali Baba’ at the far end (perhaps better observed in the Wisteria Border photos) is going bananas, in a good way. It has thrown out lots of new nice thick new growth and oodles of flower buds. I think it is going to be fabulous this year, and all the better for having grown up a bit so it won’t mostly be hiding behind the other plants.

The Wisteria Border, incorporating the Eye of Sauron. The aforementioned wisteria is on the verge of it’s annual period of growth overdrive. If I don’t keep it in check it can grow 20 or more feet into the apple tree. You can see it is already sending out tendrils all over the shop. It is also flowering, so we forgive it its trespasses. I removed the broom from the corner which was looking very scruffy and didn’t even flower that well this year. There is a space, therefore, but I need to have a think what to put in there. It is really quite a shady spot. I almost planted a clematis koreana in there, but in the end decided to plant that a little further along the trellis where it will get marginally more sunlight.

The Lilac Border – wow the lilac smells fabulous at the moment, like an accident in a perfume factory. The whole garden gets wafts of it and a closer inspection is rewarded by a heady nose-ful of splendid niff. Shame it’s so boring for 49 weeks of the year. I have planted a clematis jackmanii on the left side of the trellis, to be a partner in crime to c. ‘Rebecca’ which will soon be flowering. I still have a big gap to the right of fatty j. I need to stop dithering and buy a shrub to go in here. There is quite a lot of real estate at the front of this border. I am expecting to take delivery of a few hardy geraniums soon which might do a job here.

The Shady Border – This border has filled out considerably since last month but there are some plants that are missing in action. Of the supposedly hardy begonia there is no sign. I had several of these planted through this border and they gave good leaf colour and form. They may just have been taking shelter from the cold wet spring, perhaps they will show themselves this coming month. If not, fortune favours the prepared, I have have half a dozen begonia ‘angels blush’ which I grew from leaf cuttings last year. I’ll stuff a few of those in anyway, worst case I have too many begonia. Is that even a thing?

The Hibiscus Border – unlike its two fellow trellis denizens in the Sunny Border, the rose here, William Lobb, is doing much better. I think it just gets more daylight, the other plants being a little shorter and less crowdy crowdy. Also doing splendidly well is clematis ‘polish spirit’ which I think will cover the trellis this year and hopefully flower its socks off. Having removed a clump of helenium (and the hibiscus) from the back, I have replaced them with some….more helenium, either h. baudirektor linne or h. sahins early flowerer, possibly a combination of both. I’m hoping they will be less plainly yellow, the main sin of their predecessors. The curse of the Planting Place of Doom may have been lifted. The fuchsia I planted there last summer seems to have made a comeback, there are some signs of new growth.

The Side Alley – A brief pause betwixt rear and front gardens, the alley is fast becoming a bit of a garden in its own right thanks to several large planters. I’m particularly pleased with the rose/clematis combination. The roses are only just beginning to come out but I can already tell it’s going to be a classic year.

Front Garden – Filling out nicely, still lots of fence on show which I will attempt to cover. I am also overcome with a sudden desire to paint the fence black, but that will have to wait till the winter now. Considering the front garden is mostly a home for outcast plants thought too malformed, leggy, or otherwise insufficiently desirable for the rear garden, it’s not looking too shabby. It needs a bit of height in that central area, I have some spare canna that may fit the bill. I will also plant even more alliums in here later this year. They look great (if the crappy foliage can be hidden) and provide some structure even when the flowers are done.

That’s it for this month. I’ll back at the beginning of July for another Border Patrol.