Yesterday was a near-perfect day. A stroll to the High Street bakery with TNG to pick up some bread for bacon butties, returning via the harbour wall and then the little beach, revelling in the sunshine and the play of light on millpond-still sea. The bacon butties themselves, utterly delicious. Some exciting news for family members. And then a ring on the doorbell heralding the arrival of some plants. So, no chores, no fence clearance, just the joy of finally being able to place out and put in the ground a planting combination I have been thinking about on and off for months now.
There is a deep border on the wall side of the front garden by the gate post, which has been mostly bare – apart from a sea of forget-me-not seedlings – since I removed a large conifer in an unfortunate shade of yellow and a variegated something or other that I am afraid I disliked so much I didn’t even take the time to get to know it’s name. I also removed a lovely orange rose – saved in a pot for eventual re-planting in the front garden – and attempted to remove a large clump of the native orange crocosmia. The corner is a little separate from the rest of the garden somehow, you can’t see it from dining table in the house, and even when you are outside you tend to be drawn towards the view of the sea. The block of white Lychnis that flowered away there so happily last year looked beautiful, and something about the way the light falls in the height of summer always drew me towards making that corner one of silver, white and blue, perhaps with shots of purple.
I hatched a plan to plant some large evergreen shrubs to give height and weight to that part of the garden – and help screen us from the holiday home over the road – balanced with some more dynamic planting. So I planted a ceanothus (Ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’) in there last year, which if it survives the wind should create a wonderful block of deep blue flowers in summer. The added bonus is the tiny evergreen leaves provide dark green foliage with a slight silvery sheen to the underside. Then one of the other intended plants – a tamarisk – failed to arrive and I started to wonder whether my idea was such a good one after all. I am not, typically, a pale pink fluffy sort of person. For years I refused to have anything to do with pink, in the garden or, indeed, on my person. I have mellowed somewhat, starting with shocking pink dahlias – and a T-shirt, which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds – and gradually embracing pale pink scabious, echnicaea purpurea, cosmos. But a pale pink fluffy tamarisk? Too much?
Anyway, over the past few months a plan has coalesced in my head, and yesterday I got to commit it to the ground, so to speak. So, we have:
To the left of the ceanothus a pretty variagated pittosporum, Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Variagata’ which will grow huge, judging by the others around here, but should stay a neat shape, with a hebe ‘Red Edge’ (moved from the circle bed) for lower evergreen interest. Further round you can see a circle of mulch, which surrounds Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’. This is supposed to have the darkest leaves of any of the black sambucas, and deep pink flowers. I am excited about the way the pittosporum brings light to that corner even on a dull day, and it should work really well against the escallonia hedging on one side and the ceanothus on the other. The darker grey of the hebe foliage acts as a sort of stepping-stone between it and the lychnis clump, and both should work wonderfully with the dark leaves of the sambucus. I am also hoping that the dark foliage of the sambucus will accentuate the dark grey, often almost black new stems of the pittosporum.
I have three other hebe ‘Red Edge’ in a too-tight cluster near the pond, and I had been planning to plant these in the central area softened with grasses and with something like Echinacea purpurea and Knautia macedonica, but I really didn’t like the combination of the pinky-red new tips of the hebe against the flowers of the witch-hazel.
I think it works much better here, and when I work out how big that border is going to be I may add in the others, with softening grasses and perennials. Except that four is a really awkward number, so maybe one will have to go elsewhere. Tomorrow’s problem!
As for the tamarisk, in the end I went for it, but chose ‘Pink Cascade’, which has deeper pink flowers.
That’s it, surrounded by a mass of forget-me-not seedlings. I am hoping that the feathery foliage will work well with the sambucus, and the two together, as plants that will be cut down each Spring only to erupt upwards again over the course of the summer, should provide a dynamic element to counter the solid shapes of those evergreens. Plus I want lots of plants that will dance in the wind. We get a lot of wind – though it has been weirdly calm these past few days – and I have loved watching the Stipa tenuissima ripple and dance in it. The tamarisk should give plenty of movement. Will it work? Will I like it? Who knows, that’s the really fun bit. As to why I have planted both ceanothus and pittosporum so far in from the edge of the border, two reasons. The first is bulbs:
Trying to remove crocosmia is almost as futile as thinking you can remove acanthus from somewhere it is happy. Those yellow leaves are the proof, but I don’t really want a splash of orange in that corner if I can avoid it. With more space I stand a chance of being able to dig the corms out as they put up leaves. And the mystery tulips could be any colour, but I will almost certainly want to move them. Easier if they are not growing around the base of new shrubs. The other reason is that although I couldn’t afford to buy more escallonia at the time, I would like to thicken the hedge and continue it round the corner alongside the drive. There are a lot of cuttings in my future, and while I wait for them to grow into plants large enough to put in the ground I can fill the space with annuals.
So, there you have it, some actual planting. A plan put into action. Now I get to sit back and wait, and wonder. Fun in the cool Spring sun. And while they are not exactly a river of purple as currently enjoyed by Kate @ Beangenie, the large purple crocuses in the circle bed enjoyed the sunshine too. Happy Springtime!