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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.