(This post comes with apologies to those still struggling to garden in a drought, as these photos all show how rain-drenched my own garden has been these past few days…)

Pond Border Front Right

The ‘End of Month View’ meme, started by Patient Gardener (thank you!) has been great for helping me focus on getting my garden in better shape. My pond border is in a state of transition – much like the season I suppose. The right hand side still looks OK, with the Miscanthus really coming in to its own…

Back of left hand pond border

…though truth be told, detailed inspection of the back of the newly planted border section demonstrates that I planted everything too close together. Again. Though in my defense, I was completely poleaxed by how much growth the Stipa tenuissima and Knautua macedonica put on in just one season from sowing the seed. It probably needs re-planting to give everything more space again.

Gaps in back left pond border

Fortunately the section of border immediately to the right has plenty of gaps where the monster Cleome ‘Violet Queen’ were.

Pond border front left

The left hand side of the pond border is less pleasing, as it has gaping holes where things have been moved or removed. I’ve already written about moving the Veronicastrum from its previous home between the Miscanthus and Eupatorium. The clump of Molinia on the left hand end of the bed will also be reduced come next Spring, making yet more room. I have seedlings of Rudbekia ‘Goldstrum’ and Rudbekia ‘Rustic Dwarf’, together with Achillea ‘Moonwalker’ and Achillea ‘Cassis’. I only hope they are as successful as the Knautua macedonica. So far the Geum ‘Cooky’ seeds are refusing to show – I may have to shift them to the propagator. It’s all a bit of an act of faith – or a dream – at the moment. In my head it looks gorgeous!

Once the rain has stopped I have lots of crocus and narcissus bulbs to plant in an attempt to brighten up the bed in early Spring. One thing I do plan to treat myself to from a nursery is a Persicaria, possibly ‘Firetail’, or perhaps Sanguisorba ‘Red Thunder’. Something to give reddish-plum accents, but I can’t find seed for either.

Magnolia Border (Front)

I know it’s not the end of the year yet, but I want to introduce a second area of focus to my ‘End of Month View’ posts, the Magnolia border. It’s the next area I need to tackle, and this being an ideal time of year to move and plant, it seems to make sense to start covering it now rather than waiting until the New Year. This is the border that I moved the Veronicastrum to, and where I have planted the Cyclamen I wrote about earlier. As its name suggests, this border is dominated by a Magnolia stellata (you can just see one of the lower branches in the picture above), which is spectacular each Spring, but which is in dire need of pruning. It’s become enormous, and is directly outside the kitchen window. The bed stands between the main entrance to the back garden and the decking area under the pergola, and although I like an air of mystery in a garden, so that you don’t see everything at once, the Magnolia is currently stealing too much light from the kitchen.

This border also contains a Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’, which with great trepidation we pruned hard back this Spring. It had been living in the shadow of a hebe that had grown too big for the space and a Choisya ternata that had become diseased, and had become very lopsided. Happily it seems to have responded well, so in a couple of years it should be back to being a beautiful feature (though I confess to being irritated by the green of the young foliage).

Magnolia border (back)

This border is also home to my Hydrangea quercifolia, one of my favourite shrubs. This was only moved here last Autumn, its previous home had become too shady for it to thrive. As you can see, there is plenty of space for me to overfill with lovely things. The idea is for this rather shady border to be all whites, blues, pale mauves and purples etc., so I am planning Aconitum, Aquelegia and perhaps some foxgloves to go with the Veronicastrum, Sweet rocket and Astrantia major ‘Hadspen Blood’. As ever, a lot will depend on what seeds develop into lovely plants, and how much I decide I can cram in – after all, I can always thin it out later…

mystery plant

P.S. An appeal for help from you wiser and more experienced gardeners. My RHS books claim that Astrantias flower early to mid summer, where as various other sources claim they flower until August. Mine certainly don’t flower that long, they tend to stop by late June – what’s your experience? Second question, I found a couple of seedlings when I was clearing the Magnolia bed of the annuals that had been packing it out this year. Friend or foe? I have no idea whether this is a welcome visitor or yet another weed I need to get used to recognising…

8 thoughts on “End of Month View September 2010

  1. I like the soft full look of your pond border in transition – especially the first and fourth shots – lovely!

  2. I like Choisya ternata and reading all the books you would think it would do well here in Italy, but no! no! no! It is considered difficult. The first one I planted here (before I knew it was difficult) has done very well; others that I planted to either side of the steps that lead to the vegetable garden have all died – I give in, beaten.
    Your pond looks lovely and full and all the plants look happy. Clay has it’s own difficulties. I’ve never gardened on clay; my past gardens wereeither chalky or stony – here the soil is tuffo, a soft valcanic rock, it crumbles to soil in your hands which is a bit worrying as the house is built of tuffo taken from the garden!

    1. Interesting that when you didn’t know it was difficult to grow Choisya it thrived! I do love the fact that we all have different conditions and therefore success and failure with different plants. Though we can clearly both grow Miscanthus happily! I have got a lot better at accepting what conditions I have and working with them rather than e.g. planting verbascums and hoping they will survive… At least clay has lots of nutrients, and gives me lush foliage. I hope your house doesn’t crumble…

  3. A word of warning Persicaria put on lots of growth quickly so give them some room!
    My Astrantia flower early summer for a couple of months but then they seem to stop so I cut them back a little and often get a second flush of flowers, though its not as good as the first

    Thanks for joining in the end of month meme – I am choosing a different area next month as I think I need to move on to anew project

    1. Hi Helen, thanks for the Astrantia tip – I never thought of trying cutting them back. And an even bigger thank you for the Persicaria warning! Particularly given my propensity to plant too closely together… Will look forward to seeing your new project, your bank is turning out really well.

  4. Hi Janet,

    I have similar experience to Helen re:Astrantia. They flower until June/July, once they begin to die I cut the flowers off, place them in a vase. Then they will flower again later in the season around August and into September. I still have some but they’re clearly dying off now.

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