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:

new pittosporum in the corner

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.

Pittosporum tenuifolium Variagata

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.

Hebe 'Red Edge'

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.

new tamarix Pink Cascade

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:

mystery tulipsstubborn crocosmia

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!





49 thoughts on “Making time for some fun

  1. Sounds like you had a lovely day, it was perfect here too yesterday, very overcast today though. That is my favourite Pittosporum, I planted one last year, I hope it will survive to grow large. I also have a Ceaonothus, mine is repays and covers a nice area by a Cyprus, actually it’s been flowering, just a few blooms at a time since December, I have no idea why is’s flowering but there you are, that’ gardening!

    1. I always knew you were a woman of impeccable taste Christina ;-) I have updated the blog post to include the name of the ceanothus – ‘Puget Blue’. I love the deep blue of the flowers, though I am thinking about getting a repens for the back garden, I think it would look wonderful near the grisselina. Though I doubt I will get mine flowering in winter… Enjoy it!

  2. What a lot of lovely plants, you are certainly getting on with the work that needs doing, its going to look lovely with all the contrasting foliage, even without any flowers. If you cut your Tamarisk and Elder back after flowering, you will then be able to enjoy the flowers as well as the foliage, if you cut them in the spring, you will lose the flowers. They both flower on wood produced the previous year, I just cut one third of my elder back each year and that keeps it to about 8 ft. and I still get lots of lovely flowers which go so well with the dark leaves. Lovely to see the crocus opening up in all the lovely sunshine!

    1. Hi Pauline, thanks for the pruning warning. I am not that bothered about the flowers on the sambucus (I may change my mind if it flowers this year of course…) and the tamarisk is late flowering on new growth so should be fine being cut back once it is established. It is the early flowering form that flowers on old growth. Apparently they rapidly get unstable if you don’t prune them hard back regularly, but it is a new plant for me, so I need to get to know it. I like the idea of only cutting half the sambucus back though, I might try that in the back garden as it might give me a good balance between maintaining some screening and keeping the growth lush at the base of the plant. Thank you!

      1. Please keep some flowers Janet, they smell gorgeous and of course you can always make elder flower cordial from them, wouldn’t be without mine!!

  3. Sounds like a really lovely day, and special thanks for reminding me of bacon butties, now I’m craving for one (or two!). So many new plants planted out and glad to see that plans you’ve been hatching for months now has finally come to realisation, and yesterday seemed to have been both relaxing and productive. Nice choices there with the Ceanothus, Hebe, and especially the Pittosporum, very fine plants!

    1. Ah yes, the lure of the bacon buttie, funny how some snacks can make you salivate at the very thought of them! The pittosporum is really beautiful, even now when it is tiny. A very happy day – and tomorrow the rain starts up again. Mind you, since I nearly emptied all my water butts I’ll not complain too loudly!

  4. Oh, I love the sound of your new bed! You had me at that black Sambucus. And when you talked about playing off the black stems of the pittosporum – I was practically drooling. Combine that dark with pink – so sophisticated, so chic! I have a bad habit of just throwing a lot of plants together. Your well thought out bed seems so very beautiful in comparison. Good luck getting all the crocosmia out.

    1. Am very happy to have (almost) drive you to drool ;-) It is the advantage of having to wait to order plants, plenty of time to plan and dream. But psst, don’t tell anyone, I do the bunging thing too, suddenly get an idea and plant things. Its why I am so used to moving plants around!! The crocosmia, I fear, will be a battle measured in years rather than weeks or months…

      1. You are forgiven for the double lls, and yes, it is isn’t it, the charm of the new I suppose.

  5. What a lovely day you must have had – worth wearing yourself out for! It’s so hard trying to imagine what an area’s going to be like when the plants mature – sometimes it’s a matter of crossing one’s fingers and hoping! When I had a Sambucus nigra I was plagued with seedlings – easy to pull out, but a nuisance nonetheless, so that’s something to watch out for. Is it worth having another go at digging up the crocosmia now, before you plant any more goodies in that bed, on the basis that you can dig deeper and wider without disturbing anything else? Have you any more plants on order?

    1. Seedlings? Gosh, I hadn’t thought of that. And things do seem to self-seed very readily around here. I shall watch out, they are beautiful plants but I don’t know where I would put any more! As to the crocosmia, I will certainly be having a go at digging them out before I plant the annuals, but it will have to wait until the tulips have flowered or I won’t know where to move them too and they are all intermingled.

      1. Ah – I would be ruthless and take the tulips out now and put them in a pot till I knew what colour they were, but I suppose if you are not putting anything else in until your annuals they could wait. Your crocus pictures are beautiful, by the way – after my pathetic snowdrop close(ish)-ups I feel I need to get my instruction manual out and look for some tips!

        1. I have a working assumption that they will be red and yellow, and that I will be moving them to the cutting border in the back garden, so I am hoping to skip the pot stage…

  6. A fun day indeed, and how exciting to have an area you can get stuck into without so much darn hard work! The pittosporum looks lovely, it really glows. Look forward to seeing how this bed grows up – I’m sure the tamarisk will be lovely and feathery and utterly justify your choice. :)

    1. Hi Sara, it was a total delight to be able to plant without having to dig up anything more than forget-me-nots, oh, and the hebe, which actually had a huge rootball, but I forgive it. The jury is out on whether tamarisk and I are a match made in heaven, but I have had the benefit of seeing the ones growing down near the harbour so I know I don’t hate them…

    1. It made me very happy Elaine, though today I was back at the woodworking, making raised beds for the greenhouse!

  7. How lovely to see the crocuses opening up to the sun. I’m fascinated by the way you are considering movement in your garden; being in a windy spot, it is interesting to read how you are letting the natural conditions enhance your garden.

    1. Hi Wendy, the wind is such a feature of living here, it just seems to make sense to harness it and make it more visible through the planting. I do love the way crocuses go from tightly furled to wide open in a heartbeat as soon as the sun shines on them.

  8. One of the very great joys of modern times – plants delivered right to the door! Sounds like you had a wonderful day and your colour combinations are going to be right lovely.

    1. Hi Marguerite, I do love the fact that just because I live in a remote location it doesn’t mean I have to drive for hours to get to a garden centre to buy plants.

  9. Good to get stuck into planting and will be good to see how this bed develops over the year.
    The crocuses look gorgeous when they fully open in the sunshine.

    1. Hi Annie, I’m not as keen on the larger crocuses when they are closed up, I think they look a little clunky, but open they are a wonderful sight. One of the things I love about planting up a new area is the sense of anticipation as the rest of the year unwinds, wondering how it will all work.

  10. The idea of a stroll to the bakery, returning via the harbour wall to bacon butties and a cup of tea sounds rather inviting.
    There’s lots there to look forward to in the coming months.
    I notice that my crocosmia need to restrained, and I really like the picture of the crocuses! xx

    1. Glad you enjoyed the crocuses Flighty, they were all closed up again today. I think crocosmia are a little like bamboos, some are better behaved than others. Great flowers for cutting though so I will be planting more in the back garden…

  11. I can’t wait to see the Tamarisk in bloom…think they are very interesting and seldom used in gardens. I am a pink person ….though mostly purple, with a splash of pink. Really like the hebes….will they work here in my garden? Will have to read more about them.
    I have a Master Gardener friend who has a variegated Pittosporum and it is well over 15 feet tall~~ be forewarned.

    1. Hi Janet, I am really looking forward to seeing the tamarisk strut its stuff too, though I am not sure how much it will flower in its first year. As to hebes, I think they are wonderful plants, with a huge range of foliage type and colour, (mostly) a very tidy habit, and most also produce plumes of flowers much loved by pollinators. They vary widely in terms of hardiness, but I am sure there would be some that should work for you. Thanks for the pittosporum warning – there is one in the back garden, mostly hidden by the large bay tree, and it is around 8′ tall…

  12. Ah, Crocuses in the spring oblique light! Love it! Your garden is filling in so well. I can’t wait to follow you through the growing season with all your new plans and plants!

    1. I do love crocuses when they are fully open, they are positively brazen in their sun-worship. Worth the muddy knees required to capture them on camera ready for a day like today, wet and gloomy.

  13. Your crocuses are lovely!

    And I do like that hebe – unfortunately I have a bad track record with hebes, or I’d be down the garden centre immediately. I’ll be intrigued to see know how your attempt at crocosmia control goes; I’ve a similar problem and the best I’ve managed is a sort of control. Only sort of…

    1. Hi Kate, I thought of you when I saw the crocosmia leaves stubbornly pushing their way up out of the supposedly cleared ground. Truly the couch grass of the flower world! I also thought of you when I ordered the tamarisk, only time will tell whether it is a winner or a loser. I am pinning my hopes on the allegedly deeper shade of the flowers…

  14. I never knew crocosmia was so hard to remove. I love the variegated pittosporum. It will be a bright spot in that corner and pairing it with the sambuncus will be beautiful. Hebe’s aren’t hardy here, which is a pity. They’re such a cool plant.

    1. Shame hebes won’t grow in your area, the flowers are so great for the pollinators but it is the foliage I most appreciate them for. Its funny, really, I have become so interested in learning my way around mixed perennial planting that I doubt I would have thought of buying hebes for this garden if they hadn’t already been here. As it is, I am happy to let them stay, albeit suitably relocated.

  15. I would have identified the pink-tipped plant as sedum rather than hebe – shows what little I know. Great to see some crocuses and sunshine.

    1. They do look somewhat similar b-a-g, I know what you mean, though the other hebes here have very different foliage. It is such a varied plant family. I am really missing the sunshine now that the grey wet weather has returned.

  16. Some great plants there and I can’t wait to see them fill out. It’s really quite exciting seeing your garden come together. That’s some amount of forget-me-nots there. Disappointingly few seem to have self-seeded in my garden this year. :( I guess I’ll have to remember to actually sow some this July to guarantee some for next year. I have tackled moving plants from a couple of borders yet. I’m hoping to do that over the next couple of weeks. If we don’t have any snow that is.

    1. I am absolutely loving the luxury of being able to start, if not from scratch, at least with an emotionally clean slate. Nothing has sentimental value so I can just move it or get rid of it as seems best. And I have been so lucky in that I have been given some money to start me off and allow me to buy some structural plants that will hopefully form the backbone to the garden, and in the mean time, there are always the forget-me-nots! I am hoping that thinning them out and spreading them around a little will help bring all the different areas of the garden together, but it could wind up all being a little too much. Good luck finding days to move plants, the forecast is looking rotten again, I suppose we will all have to exercise patience. At least I got to eat lunch outside in the sun on my birthday, which is pretty unusual!

    2. PS I am happy to try sending you some forget-me-not seedlings if you like? Just get in touch via the contact page with your address and I’ll give it a go, I appear to have enough for several gardens in just the one border…

  17. Your outing sounded just lovely…I am enjoying the further development of your garden but those purple crocus took my breath away…such a deep stunning color that I am anxiously awaiting.

    1. Hi Donna, they are a lovely colour aren’t they, although at the moment they are tightly furled against the rain and grey skies. Happy to have given you a burst of Spring colour while you wait for yours to arrive. And it will…

  18. Hi Janet, you had me hallucinating for a moment over the thought of bacon sandwiches but I managed to refocus and read your post! I have a hebe red edge, not that I can get it to flower but you’ve given me some good ideas for planting combinations. I have a grass in a container and I know where it’s going now, so thanks for that. What does TNG stand for?

    1. Hi Claire, sorry about those hallucinations! I’ve never had “red edge” flower before either, but I had it planted in partial shade, so maybe in full sun? Who knows, guess I will find out this summer. Will look forward to seeing your hebe and grass combo. “TNG” is The Non Gardener, aka my other half. He has learned to listen and feign attention when I witter on about plants and planting, is very supportive of my need to have a garden fund, but does not garden himself. Except to help weed sometimes. Pretty perfect really!

  19. So glad to read that you had a day off the fence project Janet and were able to enjoy the delights of a bacon buttie and some real gardening :)

    1. Hi Anna, it was great! No woodwork, no paint brushes, just planting. And I have grabbed a couple of other fence-free days since then, while waiting for the weather and my energy levels to be up to more shrub removal.

  20. exciting happenings Janet, it is sooo lovely when the ground reaches the stage where you can start planting the plans you have been dreaming, there is a lot of native orange crocosmia here too,
    beautiful crocus photos, Frances

    1. Thanks Frances, it was really good to get some plants in the ground. I love the native crocosmia, just not in the middle of my silver and blue border!

Comments are closed.

Back To Top