The Crescent

Due to the semi-circular sweep of the Grand Herbaceous Border (currently covered in polythene) and the equivalent semicircle opposite for the piece of grass (after much begging, pleading and final threats from the other half), there’s a sliver of a border between the two that arcs gracefully from the back of Magnolia Hill to the beyond as-yet-undecided part of the garden. This part is called “The Crescent” and it’s the “spine of the whale” of the middle border. We recently finished digging most of it and with just the tail left we ran out of patience and decided to plant the area done just to clear some of the backlog of plants waiting for their space in the garden.

The Crescent Ready for Planting

Essential gardening kit: kneeling mats, string and a bucket of rocks?

The plan for The Crescent is that – given its grand name – it will have a more formal style of a sweep of the same plants from arch to arch. They will run in an unbroken line from Magnolia Hill through to the “Whale’s” tail. There’s a Graham Thomas rose planted at one arch (you can see its buds in the bottom left of the picture above) and there will be another set of roses planted at the second arch at the far end when that part is dug. If I time it right I might be able to get a bare root order in and have them planted in winter, just like I did with the front bay window rose border in winter this year.

The Whale's Spine

There’s already been a “border expansion” on the Whale’s hump

Although the spine is very slender, there’s a broad section behind Magnolia Hill that will have a number of shrubs planted. If you look to the right of the picture above, you’ll see blocks of soil and grass casually tossed on the curved sweep of the Grand Herbaceous Border and that’s come from a border expansion (yes, already!) on the Whale’s hump where I wanted to have a more generous curve leading to where the grass paths meet. The soil level has been raised significantly here and the mound has been sculpted so that the steep side is on the south-facing part of the crescent (left) and there’s a gentler curve on the north side (right).

Planting The Crescent

Planting The Crescent

The first set of plants to go in are seed-raised Delphiniums. I had to remember to keep some back as The Crescent isn’t fully dug and ends a several feet from the second arch. As the young plants are in three inch pots, the bulb planter makes the perfect sized hole in the soil to plant them in. In fact, the bulb planter has probably planted more plants than bulbs so far. In between the Delphiniums went seed-raised Verbena Bonariensis that should complement the Delphiniums.

Calendula on the Crescent

Marking plant spacing with spoons and spades.

After the Delphiniums and the Verbena Bonariensis came the seed-raised Calendula planted at the front. I used various gardening implements to help mark out the spacing with a fixed number of plants so I would make use of them all. The spade marks the half-way point of The Crescent.

Even with Delphiniums, Verbena and Calendula, the planting isn’t yet complete. I’ve put in an over-sized order for lily bulbs that will line the front of The Crescent. I’m going for two favourite varieties that we had in our previous garden, Lilium Stargazer and Lilium Regale. Magnolia Hill contains many plants that came from, or are the same replacement, for ones we had in the previous garden and I wanted to keep that theme for The Crescent. It’s almost a “nostalgia border” but as there are many new plants combined with old faces, it feels new yet familiar at the same time, which I find nice. While I was shopping for lily bulbs, I made a note of several other varieties that caught my attention and will feature in other parts of the garden provided the nasty Lily beetles can be kept under control.

The Whale's HumpThe Whale’s Hump, now expanded (again)!

The area behind Magnolia Hill is now home to a Chimonanthes Praecox, also known as Wintersweet and while I was planting this particular shrub, the roots smelled of the spices that go into winter mulled wine. I guess this is where the flowers get their scent from and while attracting pollinating insects, might also work as a deterrent for underground things that might fancy munching on its roots. Chimonanthes can be a little tender when newly planted so I am hoping for a mild winter and am taking a gamble on getting the shrub established before the temperatures drop. I might look into a bubblewrap wigwam to increase the odds. A forsythia has also been planted for glorious spring colour as well as a parentally-donated Pittosporum for an elegant, evergreen airy shrub that looks like a good home for clematis.

While there is still the tail-end to dig and the lily bulbs to plant, Magnolia Hill and The Crescent that form the major part of this island border and are now dug and done. I’m compiling another bulb order of mainly crocus but also other spring and summer flowering bulbs that will form the “bulb layer” for this border. Further planting layers include the ground cover and clematis/climbers. When all the plants are in, I’m hoping this will be a densely-packed, rich and busy border overflowing with year-round flowering shrubs, climbers, bulbs and plants from every side, every angle and every height.

I can’t wait to see how it will look and develop next season.

14 Comments


  1. When do you have time to eat and sleep? This is going to be gorgeous! I’m looking forward to seeing it in person next year. :o)

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    1. Hi Tammy, I think we’re actually suffering somewhat from exhaustion and the dreadful weather is giving us a welcome break from the soil work. There’s still lots to get done before the end of the season though – including the bulb planting – and that’s going to be a bit of a rush, then bare-root plants are coming in the winter so I guess there’s not much let up! It’ll be out-of-this-world to see you!

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  2. Well, you need to cancel the holiday you thought of booking, as there is obviously no cash left in that particular pot!!! But how lovely to see it all coming together. Given a couple of years I feel you do have more than a chance for the “yellow book”. If you open I will definitely make the journey, and even do BnB overnight so that I can visit! It’s coming along so well, I wondered if you wanted a job finishing mine off!

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    1. Hi Mrs. Mac there’s no going-away holiday for us this year (and perhaps the next and perhaps even the next one after that) while there’s borders to be dug in the garden. My dream would be to have a picture and entry in the Yellow Book and a garden crammed with people, cakes and tea, all basking in glorious summer sunshine with the scent of flowers heavy in the air – and you there of course! No need to book a BnB as you’ll be staying at ours!

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  3. You are really doing a fabulous job – looks very professional and carefully planned, even the impulse expansions. Can’t wait to see it blooming next year.

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    1. Hello Jason, thanks, I’m obviously succeeding in bluffing my way through gardening! I’m looking forward to the newly planted borders maturing and flowering in the coming years as more and more layers of planting are added and the trees and shrubs mature.

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  4. Wow, it is coming together beautifully. Do you have a small greenhouse to grow all those plants from seed? That takes such patience. And all your hard work is paying off in your gorgeous garden.

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    1. Hello Lynn, we inherited a small greenhouse and we also started off seeds indoors too and scabbed a heated propagater as well! We still have a great deal of young plants on the outdoor staging that are getting very desperate to go into the ground before the season is out.

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  5. I’m still in awe of the work you’ve done! And I’m so excited to see what it looks like in spring. Frankly, I nearly passed out with envy and longing at that Crescent (can’t help but think of the Georgian ones in Bath) of Delphiniums. I’ve had nothing but bad luck with them here. Yours will be spectacular, I know. Are they all the same color or will there be variations? And just how many plants are waiting in Sunil’s Nursery to be planted?

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    1. Hello Emily, it won’t be as grand as the Royal Crescent in Bath, but it should look good when they start getting established. It all depends how wet the soil will stay during the winter as we can’t raise the border too high in such a narrow gap. The colours are mixed blues I believe, but I’m not sure so it will be a surprise for me too. There are still many plants waiting to be planted out and I’m running out of time and the weather has turned horrid, I may have to consider gardening in the rain!

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  6. Sunil, I find that stopping and planting provides the satisfaction that keeps me going with the digging and soil preparation. Your garden really is looking beautiful. I’m looking forward to seeing it next year too!

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    1. Hello Jean, as you know, there’s an awful lot of work that’s required before even the first young plant can go into the ground. The planting of the border is pretty much the last thing that happens and so it’s all the more special. It was great fun putting the first couple in. When I had planted 20 it was OK, when I reached 50 it was getting tedious and I’m glad I was finished at about 80 as I was getting a bit fed up!

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    1. Hello Jayne, I have a picture of how I want it to look in my mind’s eye too, I’m hoping that it won’t be far off next year and in a couple of year’s time, it should be there, provided the soil conditions aren’t too wet, otherwise the whole lot might have to come out and be replaced with bog-plants!

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