Garden Blog - Blog Post

Principle Planting Phase of the Penultimate Border Passed


I’m trying to fit as many “P”‘s in to the title as I can. I’m not sure why apart from it being a little fun. Anyway, it’s been a few weeks since I last left the Willow border – the penultimate border in the garden – as a beautifully sculpted and blank canvas, ready for planting. Although it wasn’t quite ready then. Learning the lessons from how dry the Landing Pad was this summer and the struggles we’ve had getting plants to establish in it, I decided to try a leaky-hose irrigation system through the border so I can just connect up the main hose and leave the water to slowly percolate through the leaky hose, into the soil and down to the plant roots for the times when we’re waiting for rain and it just doesn’t come. I got a 50m length that I laid out over the border in a somewhat zany way due to how I have the cross-access path.

Looking rather like under-floor heating, but for a border, I tried a pre-flight test prior to planting. It revealed that the hose is indeed leaky and water does seep out of it, however, because the water pressure runs lower the closer you get to the end of the hose, the last several metres of leaky hose struggle to have any meaningful amount of water leak through it, meaning one quarter of the border could still remain very dry and need manual attention for the plants ending up in that space. Still, watering one quarter of a border manually is better than having to do it all by hand.

It was then off for the fun part of border work: picking the plants to go into it! I splashed out on some scented deciduous azaleas to replace some of the inherited azaleas that we lost when this area was cleared for restoration. The only plant to survive intact and in-place is a white flowered rhododendron, which will no longer be alone in the border anymore! The rest of the plants are either splits, from seed, from divisions or some other no-cost combination. Out of all the plants in the picture, we only bought eight:

I think that’s one of the best things about gardening – it’s full of freebies. Many of the plants going into this border were part of the nomadic patio pot collection and have finally (some after several years) found a home here. A summary list of the plants include:

  1. Hebe
  2. Bearded iris
  3. Hesperantha
  4. Hostas
  5. Vinca Major
  6. Ivy (variegated)
  7. Rudbeckia
  8. Ferns
  9. Sarcococca
  10. Scented deciduous azaleas

With the way the leaky hose winds around the border I was able to get all these plants planted in close proximity to a hose line with many of them on an inside bend where they should get particularly pampered. The next step was to get these potted plants from their pots and into the ground. The first ten were great fun, the next ten were OK, the next ten were a bit tedious and by the time I got to the end, I was almost in tears.

They’re now in the ground and can grow away – until the weather turns at least. This is the first part of the planting complete. There are still the rhododendrons from the Landing Pad to move into this border (they’re too dry in the Landing Pad). The spots for these are marked out by the shorter green-topped canes. Towards the back of the border – marked by the tall bamboo canes – I want taller shrubs that will somewhat hide the compost heap and the corner of the garden. I’m currently assembling a shopping list for the bomb-proof shrubs that will need to cope with dust-dry conditions, shade and competition from being butt-up against the pine trees. It’s no small ask. There will also be bulbs to plant as we get closer to autumn and the bulb season gets underway. From next spring, there could well be yet more divisions and splits from other parts of the garden to go here, I’m thinking of the candelabra primulas in particular as well as grasses we have propagated from seed from the patio pot collection.

All those plants in the border have generated a lot of empty pots, as I was planting them all, I collected the empty pots in the wheelbarrow to see what it would look like, and it looks like this:

That is an impressive stack of pots. I dread to think how much it would have cost if we bought them all from a garden centre. This first planting is finally complete but work on the border is far from over. The next steps I need to think about are:

  1. Formalising that cross-shaped access path in the border with a “proper” edge and filling-in with wood chips
  2. Wiring up the Goat Willow for the rose I will be planting against it
  3. Researching, sourcing and planting the shrubs for the back of the border

For now though, I’m very happy with this border and can’t wait to see it grow and fill out, which should be all the easier with the watering system installed. If it works well then it’s something that I am going to go and retro-fit to the Landing Pad, which admittedly needs a little TLC.

In the background I’ve done an inventory over the entire patio pot collection in order to reduce the numbers down to a manageable size and designs are underway with the grass walk that runs along the top of the garden, between the newly installed fence and the last (to do) main border.

It’s exciting to have several projects running along at once and it may be a bit of a cliff-hanger end to this growing season.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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gardeninacity 27/09/2020 - 10:36 pm

Eagerly looking forward to seeing how it all looks next year!

Sunil Patel 29/09/2020 - 7:56 pm

Thanks, Jason, so am I! I’m hoping all the azaleas planted in that border will flower in the Spring.


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