If you’re a cat and look straight out of the patio doors you’ll see a Buddha head meditating on a tree-round facing back at you. There’s a border to its right that I’ve just come up with the name of, “Buddha border”. It’s a raised bed that was newly created a few years ago and remains shaded by a Choisya growing over it.
That corner of the garden has changed “look” several times. It did start looking like this in 2009 when I first “inherited” the garden – and this was after several stages of clean-up:
It was eventually cut back, tidied up and to help keep the root disturbance down (and make planting new plants easier) the area was raised up with log-rolling. Most of the first plants that went into the new border were kindly donated and this is how it looked in 2010 just after it was newly planted:
We still didn’t have the Buddha head at this point, it arrived a year later in 2011, when it was spotted at the Garden Centre. I don’t recall looking out for it in particular, it was just that all the Buddha heads we had seen before – and even those we have seen up to now – weren’t quite right. There was always something “off” about them, either in the facial expression or the features. They didn’t have the sense of serenity about them. Call it what you will but it was only when we saw this Buddha head did it instantly “click” that this was the one to go for and we have never found a better one since.
There wasn’t much done to this border during 2011, but the Choisya was suffering with the cold winters and the lower branches were looking rather ill. By summer, the Buddha was installed in front of the bird bath:
I wasn’t going for any particular kind of planting scheme, apart from preferring shade-tolerant plants. It simply conspired that with the new and existing plants, we had a border that was predominantly green, but with contrasts of foliage shape and texture. Any flowers were either dark (iris), light (hosta) or subtle (campanula) – no gaudy gladioli or bedding begonias in this border! This gave the space a calm and relaxed air, befitting of the Buddha beside it. The bamboo that had been planted along the fence gave an oriental feel, especially with the red-painted fence behind it.
By 2012, the border was well established and the planting matured. We pruned out the bad parts of the Choisya and that let in a lot more light, opened up the area and made it feel less cluttered. The Buddha continued to mediate, now surrounded with a mantle of ivy and thyme, making it look much more settled in.
The plan this year is to simply maintain the border along similar lines to previous years, focussing on plants more for foliage rather than flowers. I’ve been very pleased with this corner of the garden.
The Buddha border (for me) really does evoke a sense of peacefulness and relaxation. The black bamboo planted along the fence are maturing and filling out so there’s now the rustle of their leaves in the wind to add to that feeling of being transported to an oasis of tranquility, just as long as you catch it at a time when the blackbirds aren’t being raucous, the house sparrows aren’t dive-bombing into the bird bath and the pigeons aren’t trying to knock each other off the garden arches.