The semi-circular border in the front garden is coming along nicely. It’s been about four months since I first started work on it and one and a half months since I finished planting it out. With the summer sunshine and occasional watering to get plants settled in, the result is looking very picturesque.
It’s amazing how much the border has grown and filled out since it was first planted. Let’s just have a reminder of how it looked then:
Those sunflowers look so tiny, just look how much they’ve shot up since then! The roses planted either side of the ornamental blossom tree have started filling out too. The lavender and thyme planted in two formal rows at the front are bushing out and are much more visible in the gravel than they used to be. In case this isn’t a big enough change, let’s just have a reminder of what I originally started with, right back at the beginning:
Gone are the vigorous viburnum shrubs and the straggly lavender and in their place a mix of dahlias, iris, sunflowers, roses and a few other bits and pieces that I managed to find room for.
There are some parts of this border I really like, the first is the Clematis “Star of India”, which has wound its way up the trunk of the tree (with a bit of help from some garden twine) and is flowering in the lower branches. Being a young clematis (I only got it last year, I think) and subsequently having been moved, I wasn’t expecting a great show but it has surprised me. At the moment though, only an observant passerby will wonder why a blossom tree is flowering with lovely deep purple flowers in the middle of summer. My plan is for this clematis to establish, fill out in the tree canopy and turn it purple each summer.
The lavender threw a few surprises our way too. Out of the eight plants – all taken from cuttings – one is a very dark coloured lavender, while the other seven are light pink. None are the colour of the lavender that I thought we had in the last garden. I just can’t figure out where they came from, I must have lost some marbles in the house move. The thymes planted right at the front are looking well too and should start knitting together in a few years, they look “at home”, set into the gravel drive.
The rescued dahlias have come on very well. They were all discovered in and saved from a discard/compost heap at the back of the garden. Out of the thirteen sets of dahlia tubers I salvaged, only two didn’t regrow. I’m glad I took the time and effort to recover these plants as they’re not cheap. At the time I had no idea what kind of dahlias they were but hoped they would grow taller than they are as they’re not very visible, especially from the other side of the fence but the flowers are delightful; a mix of single reds, whites, pinks and yellows. I may move them to a more visible spot if their full height is only two feet.
The two roses are coming on well. Rosa “Gertrude Jekyll” and Rosa “Teasing Georgia” (both climbing) were planted either side of the tree, each to grow up their own obelisk. Both roses flowered, but needed regular watering and I could see the strain the plants were under because the flowers were not fully formed and wilted very quickly due to the root systems having been damaged in the original house move and in the re-planting. They have finished flowering now and are beginning to grow new foliage and stems – always a good sign. By next season their roots should be well on the way to fully re-establishing and then the fun can begin. Rosa “Teasing Georgia” is especially vigorous and is reaching up the obelisk, towards the tree and towards the fence already. It also branches heavily and will make a substantially sized plant in the coming years. Rosa “Gertrude Jekyll” on the other hand, is somewhat more sedate, but is very capable of reaching a respectable size slowly, but surely.
My plan is to weave these roses through the picket fence and have them spilling over the top and cascading down while taking the verticals into the lower branches of the tree. Since these are short climbers, they won’t reach up very high but I have a feeling that “Teasing Georgia” is going to be a handful given how much growth it has already put on; it is already poking through the fence in several places.
There are several “features” I want that front border to have such as the tree turning purple with clematis while the fence turns pink and yellow with roses. I want the lavender on the other side to create a hazy band of pink airy flowers and I want the thyme to knit together and reach out across the gravel. The verge and pavement should be covered in rose petals, blown from fading flowers from a summer breeze. A sweeping stand of tall, bold sunflowers should nod their large heads in the wind. It should look arrestingly beautiful, bountiful and with a strong hint of opulence.
I have noticed myself becoming much more focussed on how I want a border or an area of the garden to look and feel. I know what emotions I want to invoke, I know what kind of interest I want, what scent and at what time of year for it to “peak”. I take this picture and then reverse-engineer it and garden in such as way as to recreate that very picture. It’s akin to having a jigsaw puzzle; by knowing what the final picture looks like, I know the pieces I need to use and how they fit together. This approach to gardening is something that seems to have gradually crept up on me such that I have only really noticed it now. It’s not a right or wrong way to garden, simply one methodology out of many and given the early results I have had with the front and side borders, it seems to be working rather well.