Whoever said that gardening was a relaxing, leisurely activity, with no strenuous work, heavy lifting, over-exertion, stress or deadlines obviously had someone else doing it for them. I say this as I am now noticing the days getting shorter, each passing day there’s a couple of minutes fewer to garden in. Each passing day moves us nearer to the end of the growing season and each passing day is one less in which I have to try and work through the creation and planting of two large borders in the garden. What’s at stake are a whole host of potted shrubs bursting at the seams, countless young plants that are getting ever more impatient to be planted out and a planting window, after which a whole season must pass before the opportunity comes around again.
Digging up the compacted clay and mixing in the new soil is hard, arduous and slow work. Contouring and profiling the border takes time to get the right levels, slopes and shapes. Reforming the battered border edges after the heavy work is time-consuming. Only after this is all done can I finally start working on the queue of plants waiting to head out beyond the patio staging area and into the great garden beyond.
As it turns out we’ve given areas of the large borders enigmatic names such as:
- Crocosmia Circus: where several grass paths come together and leave you surrounded on all sides by the tall flames of Crocosmia Lucifer
- The Crescent: a narrow but long section of border perfect for a regal line of delphinium spires and stargazer lilies
- Magnolia Hill: A mixed shrub border of contrasting foliage shapes, colours, flowers and scent crowned at the pinnacle with a Magnolia tree
- Judas Rise: A highly mounded part of the border with steep sides crowned with a neighbour-donated Cercis Siliquastrum – the Judas Tree
- Fruit Avenue: A long straight border filled with all manner of decadent fruit trees and delightfully tempting soft fruit shrubs
Right now we’re working on each piece in that list apart from the first. The descriptions reflect the end-product but the current reality is very different. A mass of Delphiniums will eventually be planted in a long majestic sweeping line once the Crescent is complete. The rear part of Magnolia Hill – which turned out to be mixed shrub border – will receive the potted shrubs. Fruit Avenue is waiting for – you’ve guessed it – bare root fruit trees and soft fruit shrubs.
I want to try and get these areas ready for planting before the weather starts to decline and it’s a race against time. If Fruit Avenue isn’t ready by winter, I’ll miss the bare root tree season and will have to wait another whole season before the structure of this border can go in. If I’m late with the Crescent, a whole load of Delphiniums might expire in their tiny pots, having waited and waited and waited.
Sometimes it feels like plants wait for no gardener.
We’re just left with September before the weather really starts getting foul. The Crescent has just been planted and Fruit Avenue needs to be ready before the New Year (taking into account that I’m more of a fair-weather gardener). It feels as though time isn’t on my side at the moment but each minute the tiller is mixing the soil, each barrowful of compost and manure that goes into the new borders and each evening of fair weather after work when I can get out and do a little bit more means the monumental task of creating these new borders comes closer to reality.