There is a narrow strip of border under the front lounge window, which was one of the earlier borders to be restored. It’s about a metre wide and about five long. Unfortunately I don’t have any original pictures of it, but it was weed-choked with the odd scratty-looking shrub dotted about. It didn’t take long for my attention to focus on it, at which point it was history. I wrote about how I first created the border and then planted it with bare root roses in earlier posts.
This lounge border really is a strip and very small compared to other garden borders, but it does sit prominently at the front and is highly visible to traffic, passersby and the neighbours who overlook it, so in redoing this border it had to look absolutely outstanding. The first step was to take this strip completely back to a blank canvas:
I had already decided that I wanted the border filled with roses and each bamboo stick marks a rose bush. As is typical of my style, the border is only large enough to hold three or four medium-sized rose bushes, but I chose to cram in seven. I argued that because the roses at the front of the border can always flow over the brick line and onto the gravel drive, that counts as “borrowed space”, and so I can fit in more. It also means I can have more of my favourite roses instead of restricting myself to fewer varieties, so happiness all-round.
As the roses went in as bare root plants in winter, they took their time in becoming established and growing away, but we did manage to have a couple of flowers on the more vigorous plants in the first season, but the border was still mainly soil with a few green bits here and there. The gaps were embarrassing and it didn’t look all that much better than the weed-choked original.
All that has changed this year though. It is the second year for this border and the roses are maturing and becoming well-established. At this point in the season they have already had their first flush of flowers and they are now well into their second. The once isolated little plants have met and are knitting together into a continuous mass of leaves, flowers and thorns. The view from the front is now much, much better.
In this eye-catching mid-summer display we have five of the seven roses in flower. Although the picture only shows four, the fifth rose is there but hidden, more blooms from this particular one and indeed others, are on the way. The sixth rose is heavily budding and will join the five shortly while the seventh rose, which is the one on the back-right, has suffered from being shaded by the Camellia. A light trim of the Camellia and some generous feeding has seen this rose grow a couple of long searching canes, from which will sprout many flowering branches.
I may have been a little ambitious in just how many rose bushes will fit in the border and so they’ve had to be restrained with bendable mild steel rod supports to stop the ones at the back from falling over ones in front. In this wonderful gem of a rose border, we do have to remain wary of rose sawfly and prevent the rose leaf black spot from running out of control. It can also become very dry and will need drenching a couple of times during the summer months. There’s also ensuring a heavy annual winter mulch for feeding the plants as well as occasional shape-pruning to stop any one shrub from dominating the others around it. For a small strip, there is a disproportionately larger amount of work to maintain a healthy border.
The extra effort is worth it as the best part of this border is being able to come home from work on a warm summer evening and walk along, seeing and smelling the exquisite blooms. If life was a bed of roses, it might look a little something like this.