Talk on Corners – Part 1

I think this is going to be a series of three posts on the “corner border” a large border that is a key part of the master plan, which I still have on a fading and yellowing piece of paper, here is a scan of it when it was a bit fresher:


This is still the master plan for the garden that I’m following and the corner border is the wavy pencil line towards the bottom left with the asterisk (I’ve forgotten what it stood for). There have been some changes due to the fact that I completely messed up the scale, but the general shapes are there. Unlike the central island and Fruit Avenue (on the right), this border is technically not new. There are in fact, already a few shrubs, perennials, lots of weeds and a mature camellia hemmed in by grass and there is some semblance of a row of rocks to mark the boundary.


As one steps off the upper terrance onto the mezzanine (the grey strip of sloping concrete that leads to the grass, there is an obvious set of planting on the right, which at one point must have looked good. By now only the variegated euonymus is healthy, the Camellia is stunning in flower but everything else needs attention.

If we go down the rustic steps on the very right to the lower terrace and look back up to the mezzanine, we face this “border” head on.


Stuffed with weeds, carex, daylilies and self-seeded trees, this so-called “border” was in dire need of restoration. Continuing round to the right and walking back up to the mezzanine again, we see the border end-on and a mass of Crocosmia Lucifer under and in front of the Camellia. This original stand of Crocosmia inspired the plan for “Crocosmia Circus”, which won’t see completion for a few years yet.


This is the first border in the garden-proper that is actually a border expansion and not a completely new, never-been-there-before border. Following the master plan, I marked the expanded border out on the grass using sticks.


Given the new size is many times larger than the original it is a bit of a stretch to call this an “expansion”. Once the area was marked out the next thing to do was to grab the lawn edger to cut and overturn the turf at the border edge.


Working methodically from one end to the other under the shade of a parasol, there’s nothing quite like marking out a new border with a lawn edger, one segment of turf at a time, it’s very enjoyable. The lawn edger is my favourite garden tool, such a simple device, so many possibilities.


The final step was to cover the border over with landscape fabric (pinned down) to kill off the grass.

This border expansion work was done in 2014 there has been no further work done until 2016. The year off was taken up with creating two other borders and it wasn’t until this season, that we returned to the corner border to resume work on restoring it.


    1. Hi Mrs. Mac, it’s still not finished yet, but it is very close. The plants are already going in, it’s just that in a border this size, there’s a lot of plants and they take a long time to be planted! I can’t wait to finish this border, it’s ben two years in the making.


    1. Hello Alain, it seems to be the only way to go about it in a border this size. Taking pieces, and working on one part at a time until eventually – some years down the line – the garden is “complete”, such as it can be.


    1. Yes, you do! That’s why I’m frantically planting the goodness-knows-how-many plants into this border so it’s complete by the time you visit and you can officially “open” the border (I’ll try and have some twine and secateurs)!


  1. You think big – I like that. As Daniel Burnham (who drew up the master plan for the City of Chicago) famously said: “Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”


    1. Hello Jason, I follow the, “do it like you really mean it” phrase when it comes to making borders and planting. There’s no point making fussy little borders here and there with a few plants in each. It’s much better to make huge borders and plant by the hundred!


  2. Wish I could be with you two again and casa mariposa! She will love her visit to your garden. It makes me tired to think of all the work you’ve put in to the corner border, but the result will be worth every minute!


    1. Hello Lynn, I wish you could see it too but at least the next time you visit, there will be this border and other new borders to look over too! At some point we’ll run out of space in which to make new borders then hopefully the pace will start slowing down then! I can only hope.


  3. Sunil, I am excited by this series of post on your corner border. Like you, I am working on a multi-year plan for creating a garden. Next year is the year I will move down to the lower part of the front garden, which includes corners that need to be thought through.


    1. Hello Jean, I’ll look forward to seeing how the upper parts of the slope (where the flag stone paths wind around the house) grow and develop and can’t wait to see what you do with the lower parts. I remember seeing a planting diagram (you’re always so organised) of how it will be all laid out.


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