The Twelve Days (and then some) of Planting

On the twelfth day of gardening, my borders wanted me, (to plant):

  • 12 Mixed Foxgloves
  • 11 Golden Agastache
  • 10 Dierama
  • 9 Verbascum Snowy Spires
  • 8 Mini Agapanthus
  • 7 Red Geums
  • 6 Orange Trollius
  • 5 Japanese Anemones
  • 4 Yellow Ligularia
  • 3 White bergenia
  • 2 Chocolate Actea
  • and a single Gardenia Jasminoides

Precise numbers aside, over the last few weeks it feels like all I’ve done is plant out into the borders to fill gaps. Whether they’re plants from splits, from the overflow bed on the patio, garden-ready seedlings from the staging, cheap nursery purchases, online deliveries – it’s all been going out into the garden.

Another bare expanse in the Main Border filled for next year

All these additional plants means the glaring gaps I was fussing over earlier in the year are gradually filling in and with the gaps left, I just need to double-check the plan for autumn purchases (namely bulbs and bare root plants to race away in the spring). There might be some begging, borrowing and stealing needed too.

Greenhouse Staging still in full-production mode for plant heirs and spares

While I normally like planting out and find it really satisfying, I find myself getting impatient to see the just-planted additions grow, fill out and cover the expanse of soil. There are a queue of plants still waiting to go out; once they’re in the ground, the seedling pots they were in are going to be filled with compost again and something else is getting sown in them, either more perennials, biennials or hardy annuals for next year. If the weather is warm long into the autumn, I might be able to get away with planting some of them out before winter instead of trying to overwinter them in the greenhouse (which rarely goes well).

Another bare expanse – to be filled with Crocosmia (planted as bulbs in Autumn)

Of course I have lists and notes, scrawled on pieces of paper and even PowerPoint slides to try and account for every piece of bare ground in the garden. Not helping matters is the ever-present threat that a block or more of plants may not make it through the winter and come spring, I’ll be left with a glaring new patch of bare ground that is unaccounted for – hence the need to have a backup – something easy, quick-growing and adaptable that I can bung in to fill the hole and give the all-important, “it was always meant to look like that” impression.

Do I need a backup for the Rudbeckia in case they don’t survive the winter?

I’m relying annuals to save the day there.

I’ve been expecting this year to be calmer and more relaxed, but the frantic planting out, panic sowing, desperate plant lists and stacks of Garden Centre/Nursery catalogues reveals anything but. Having gone around plenty of other gardens, I know it’s unreasonable to expect every border to be filled to overflowing and for there not to be a single square inch of soil showing, but I’m having a little bit of trouble accepting that it’s OK in my garden too.

Arums, Astrantias, Lunarias and Fucsias planned for this gap around the tree

In the end, I know it’s going to be a whole load of worry over nothing, but perhaps I need the worry to get sufficiently organised so that next year’s NGS openings go well. For the moment, I have two trays of plants for revamping the Corner Border, which is desperate for some attention. Elsewhere, the staging has the next generation of Delphinium Crescent just sown. There’s a batch of Gallery Lupins as well as biennial Lunaria. I’m waiting for the Sisyrinchium seeds to mature before sowing those and there’s also a whole tray of sown Bunny Tails grass. I’ve just collected the seeds from the foxgloves and they’ll be sown next Spring (the foxgloves that will flower next year have all just been planted out) and beside me as I write this, I have several packets of annual and perennial seed, ready for sowing next March/April.

Fruit Avenue v2 beginning to fill-in after the complete overhaul

I hope to end up with an almighty glut of plants because the excess can always go to Plant Sales – whatever’s left after I’ve filled in any border gaps next year, that is.


  1. Hi Sunil – you sound a bit frantic in this post! Please remember to breathe, in… out.. in…. That’s better. It’s all going to be wonderful, I’m sure your visitors will forgive you for a bit of bare soil showing. I wish I could come and visit next year since I’ve followed your progress (from afar, and silently) since you took over the garden years ago. What you have achieved is something to be proud of.


    1. Thanks for your kind words, Wendy, I do have my moments. In the end, I just want to make sure I have enough spares such that if I did need to fill a spot in, I can just go to the greenhouse staging, pick something up and bung it in. There’s no greater feeling in the world sometimes.


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