When we first moved here the garden was pretty much devoid of plants. There was rough field grass (left to grow to over 2′!), a couple of Euonymus (‘Emerald Gaiety’ and ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’), and a large conifer in the corner. We were overlooked by over half a dozen houses, which I hated.
This was my first garden, so I devoured books to try and work out what to do with the space. Lots of them recommended that, in a small garden, the best thing to do was hide the boundaries so that the eye was deceived as to where the garden began and ended. This was rather counter intuitive to me, but I am so grateful that I followed their advice! Fourteen years on and you can barely see the back fence.
The large conifer has been joined by a black stemmed bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra), Fatsia japonica, and behind the deciduous shrub (some type of Philadelphus, I think, it was a refugee from the front garden) another bamboo and Euonymus ‘Green ‘n’ Gold’.
Further round the silver birches sit in front of the Aucuba japonica crassifolia that I blogged about for GBBD and the Canry Islands Ivy (Hedera canariensis). Further round to the left is Mahonia x media ‘Charity’.
The right hand boundary used to be similarly smothered, mostly with a very vigorous honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenmum ‘Graham Thomas’. It did what honeysuckles tend to without regular pruning, and grew woody at the bottom and only flowered in a great lumpen sprawl along the top of the fence – and in to my neighbour’s garden. I put off renovating it for years, as I didn’t want to put up with the bare boundary or deprive the birds of a favourite nesting site, but this year I got around to it. It is already growing back, vigorously, there are Blue-tits nesting in the bird-box, and we have planted a variety of other climbers to extend the season of interest. We have Clematis montana ‘Sunrise’ (allegedly a lot less vigorous and invasive than the standard montana, with scented pink flowers), Clematis koreana ‘Blue Eclipse’ (pale blue bell-like flowers from April to August), Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ (a viticella with delicate deep purple flowers in late summer) and the beautiful climbing rose ‘Mme. Alfred Carriére’ with fragrant white blooms. We’ll see, the profusion of bamboo poles is supposed to help us train them well over the willow trellis, and we have promised ourselves to keep on top of the training. Watch this space…
Although I love our willow trellis, I much prefer living willow screens, like the one above partially hiding the polytunnel I talked about on Anglesey. Jacqui, who built the screen and helped me to build a willow fence around the cutting garden there, also built a wonderful living dome for her children to play in:
I love boundaries made with natural materials rather than tanalised fence panels, they always seem so much more beautiful, though this one hides a secret:
The beautiful hazel screen surrounds the beehives kept on the local playing fields next to the allotments:
I’m so glad they didn’t use conventional fence panels, and the willow was coppiced at the local Woodland Trust-managed Lower Woods, part of the ancient Avon forest. I’ll take my camera there and show you how beautiful it is next spring when the bluebells are out.
What I secretly long for, though, is a good hedge. I’ve been collecting beach seedlings – we get loads every year from next door’s tree – with ambitions to create something beautiful in the future.
I love the way that beach retains a lot of its coppery leaves over winter, they sing out against blue skies.