Definite progress in the back garden this month. The cutting bed has been planted up and hopefully will produce lovely flowers for the house as well as adding a hot splash of colour to the garden.

the cutting bed

The backbone of the bed is a selection of dahlias, ranging from deep red through shocking pink to orange. Add marigolds, cornflowers and hopefully some crocosmia ‘Bill McKenzie’ and there should be plenty of zing.

We’ve also made progress sorting out the entrance to the garden, laying a new path that runs from the shed past the re-sited greenhouse, and best of all, creating a herb bed.

New way in to back garden

Eventually we’ll move the path that currently runs along the back of the garage out a little, making space for another planting area against the wall. Come Autumn I am hoping to plant a cherry there, I love the thought of being able to pick sun-warmed cherries.

The Herb Bed

Its a really good location for herbs, close enough to the back door to make collecting them easy, even when wet as it is surrounded by paving, plus it is right next to the greenhouse which will hopefully benefit from the pollinators that will be drawn there by the thyme etc.

The black pots mark the places where the three remaining plants will go when they arrive, a rosemary with a very upright habit, a purple sage and Perovskia. OK, so cheating a little, but it is called Russian Sage, and it will provide late summer colour. I also have thyme, lavendar, echninacea, bronze fennel, verbena bonariensis for height and the bees and butterflies, and some annuals for froth – white scabious and Ammi majus. Hopefully it will be pretty as well as useful. I am going to take cuttings from the Erysium ‘Bowle’s Mauve’ that I have planted in the front garden and add it in for early colour, and intend to add lots of bulbs too – crocuses, dwarf iris and scented narcissus. It has totally changed the feeling of the entrance to the garden, and opened everything up, I couldn’t be happier that we decided to move the greenhouse, this works so much better.

Elsewhere the park border has also seen a lot of action, again with the aim of adding more colour to the garden. Last year I was distressed by the sight of pink comfrey flowering away next to orange crocosmia. Shocking pink and orange is one of my favourite colour combinations, but pale pink and orange? No. Just, no… So, after debating what to move, I decided to keep the fruity area of the border cooler colours, and dug up the crocosmia instead.

the cool end of the park border

Aquilegia alpina will be followed by blue campanula, and the lovely Astrantia ‘Shaggy’ will be followed by the equally lovely Aster divaricatus. A selection of purple and white geraniums help fill the space and will hopefully also help suppress the weeds.


The currants are doing really well here, as is the rhubarb, and I have now added a Japanese wineberry. I’ll also be moving the alpine strawberries here, they are taking over the raised bed they are currently planted in and I need the space, but they should make a really good edible edging. Further up the border the colours will become hotter, with a shocking pink wallflower and a pair of daylilies, one orange the other yellow. Together with the borage they will add edible flowers to the mix, which makes me smile. But not as much as this does:

Helianthus lemon queen

You have to use your imagination, but that tiny plant in the middle there is Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, so it should erupt – eventually – into a enormous plant smothered in yellow flowers, which I think will look great against the bright green foliage of the Griselinia behind. ‘Lemon Queen’ is one of those plants that I have lusted after for years now, but I didn’t have a good location for it in my last garden. And when I finally worked out where I could plant it we moved!

Further along again, next to one of the daylilies, I have one of three geums that will hopefully supply me with zingy colour, at least next year. Not much sign of flower buds on this one yet.

day-lily and geum

The geum is ‘Karlskaer’, which has (will have!) cheery orange flowers. I like the contrast in foliage between it and the daylily, and really like the daylily against the foliage of the Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ – which is a lovely plant but good grief, what a name. I’ll be wanting to add more blue in the form of the campanula, but I ran out of time yesterday. I also have some ‘Johnson’s Blue’ geraniums for the front of the border, which should contrast nicely with the Lady’s Mantle.

Moving along, more hot colours.

new plants

Well, not yet, but there will be! Silene ‘Jack Flash’, and another longed for plant from my wishlist, Helenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’. Where the bamboo cane is. When it arrives. I’ve also planted a yellow dahlia, but I can’t remember whether it is a hot yellow or a cool yellow. Never mind, if it doesn’t work it will come out.

Right at the end, next to the acer, I have a new Geranium, ‘New Dimension’, which has lovely dark purple foliage and flowers that seem to change colour depending on the light. Sometimes they look blue, at other times more purple. Either which way, I love it – I got it from a garden in a neighbouring village that was open as part of the National Garden Scheme. Well, it would have been rude not to really. After all, it was for charity…

geranium new dimension

new dimension ooking blue

All in all, I am pleased with the way this border is taking shape, although there are still precious few flowers to show for all my hard work at the moment. Here are the current sources of colour – click on any image to see the slideshow:

[g-gallery gid=”4307″ random=”0″ watermark=”0″]

My next target is the back border. From a distance, and particularly in the soft evening light, it looks pretty good.

back border

However, the ferns are growing in the wrong places, and even the end I have started to plant up needs some serious attention – only Geum rivale ‘Leonard’s Variety’ is really earning its keep at present. And the weeds! The weeds are making a concerted effort to reclaim the whole area.

next target

geum rivale Leonard's Variety

This is my contribution to Helen’s End of Month meme, which I find tremendously helpful for tracking progress on the areas of the garden I am focusing on. Do check out her post and the links there to other people’s, it is always fascinating.

52 thoughts on “End of Month View May 2014

  1. Janet, what a coincidence, I’ve just added H. Lemon Beauty to my garden – I really under estimated it’s rapid growth rate (nothing new there though – it’s what I always do!), was daft enough to buy 3 plants!! I had also forgot I was sent a wee piece, similar to yours by a friend last year, so now got 4.
    Another coincidence is ferns in the wrong place.
    The new path and the herb bed look great – I think it was a wise move to move the greenhouse. It’s all going to look wonderful and the bees will love it.

    1. Hi Angie, sounds like me with my Cephalaria gigantea, now taking over the fence border in the front garden! I do love it though. I am excited about the herb bed.

  2. What a lovely upbeat post. It really sounds as though it’s all coming together. The cutting garden and the herb bed look fab.
    It’s a real shame you do not have acid soil. I could recommend, nay even donate, an azalea or two to add to those zingy colours.. ;-)

  3. Great post Janet! Suffice to say you have been very busy and the progress in your garden is unmistakeable. The herb bed and new path looks fab!

    1. Cheers guys, it has felt really good to make so much visible progress, now I just have to sit back and wait for some flowers…

  4. Hi
    I bet the crocosmia was easier to move than the comfrey, and I did laugh about the Helianthus Lemon Queen. I had that plant and it bulks up quickly, in fact I ended up composting mine as it just didn’t fit with my borders once I had moved stuff around. I love your cutting and herb borders. Thanks for joining in again

    1. Hi Helen, yes, that might have had something to do with choosing what to move! Though I am sure I will find I missed a few crocosmia bulblets, and will be pulling it up for years to come… I remembered your Yellow Queen experience when I was choosing where to plant it, and have my fingers crossed that I haven’t severely under estimated its vigor.

  5. What a lot you have achieved, your herb bed and cutting border are super, they will be so convenient for you. Ferns pop up all over the place here, sometimes they are allowed to stay, sometimes not! By next year all your plants will be feeling very much at home and you will have wonderfully colourful borders to show us!

    1. Hi Pauline, it feels good to have the beds planted up, now I get to wait and watch while it all grows away. The ferns are wonderful, but like so many self-seeding things, have a tendency to be inconvenient in their choice of location. Part of me is sad to have so much less to plant up, where on earth am I going to put all the other plants I crave?!

    1. Hi Sue, I am expecting the wineberry to be quite slow to settle in and produce, but I couldn’t resist trying it, plus it looks as if the winter stems are attractive too? Funny, I can be patient with fruit, but I am itching to see the geums and helianthus flower, and will be irritated if I don’t get any blooms this year. Despite knowingly buying small plants…

  6. Janet, great progress in all the areas you’ve shared. I love seeing it all come together. The new entrance to the garden with its herb bed looks brilliant almost like it has always been that way. So interesting how doing something you had originally planned, I.e moving the greenhouse has changed that whole area for the better, something to remember for us all.

    1. Hi Christina, its amazing how, once we had decided to move the greenhouse, everything else just slotted in to place. It just feels “right”, and although we both thought it would be good, opening up the entrance to the garden more, neither of us realised how much better it would feel. I am just itching to get the shed and greenhouse stained now!

  7. A most enjoyable post and lovely photos, among which the californian poppy and phacelia caught my eye perhaps because I also grow them.
    Happy gardening! xx

    1. Hello Flighty, I thought you would enjoy the poppy! I love the way the petals look like silk, open or closed. Hope you’ve managed to get some good plotting in, we’ve been having lots of rain again. It has settled the plants in well, but it certainly gets in the way of planting in the kitchen garden.

  8. Hi Janet,

    Lovely! You’re doing really well with the kitchen garden, most admirable as it’s something I just don’t have the patience for. It’ll all come together soon, have you sown annuals to help fill borders temporarily? I did that quite regularly in the first few years just so I had something at least.

    1. Hi Liz, sadly I was too ruthless when it came to sowing annuals, and for once I didn’t really sow enough to give me the full range I was hoping for when it comes to gap filling. I do have some snapdragons almost ready to go out though, so that should help. I love the kitchen garden, but it is hard work, something all those little articles on growing your own don’t always make clear.

  9. Janet you sound so enthusiastic with everything, it all seems to be coming together so nicely despite the weeds in one border, the herb garden looks lovely and will provide some nice perfumes and aromas as you enter and leave or work in that area, I like the sound of a dark leaved blue flowered geranium, you have quite a lot flowering, so pleased for you as you have worked so hard on your garden since moving in, Frances

    1. Hello Frances, it is very satisfying to see discernible progress, and I am thrilled to finally have a herb garden. All the hard work is beginning to pay off, I won’t be doing as much over the summer, but hopefully I will able to enjoy it all in filling in the gaps and starting to flower. Easy to be enthusiastic when everything comes together – less so when viewing all the weeds left to deal with! I only showed a fraction of them…

      1. Janet, I know what you mean re weeds, I’ve been avoiding going too near the damp meadow and tweenie garden this year due to weeds, I’m lucky having a garden big enough to do that, my mistake last week was going over there and trying to weed the path between them, this was what prompted my wet garden post, you can’t see a path just a wide strip of weeds, it’s not so easy to avoid in the smaller gardens when it’s so close, good luck, Frances

  10. Oooh, I googled ‘Lemon Queen’ and now I’m imagining it as a lovely focal point in your garden. Sunflowers are such cheery summer plants! Interesting–your method for planting Lettuce is similar to what I tried this year, and the results are very similar, too. I’m enjoying snipping fresh Lettuce from the garden for our salads, and it was an inexpensive method–starting it from seed. Your Geums, Columbines, and Geraniums are fabulous!

    1. HI Beth, hard to beat just strolling out in to the garden to pick leaves for a salad, isn’t it, although in my case I keep finding slugs sleeping within the leaves… I am really looking forward to the new geums flowering, I’m not sure this will happen this year as I bought small plants, they are cheaper and seem to establish better. ‘Lemon Queen’ should certainly make a big statement once she settles in.

  11. I love that helianthus too, Janet – though I don’t have one, yet. Ii always catches my eye in other gardens but then how could it not. I’ve been digging up and discarding crocosmia too and I guess we’re not alone. It is widespread (and often unwanted) at the Priory. Being such a thug it was one of the few plants that shrugged off being neglected and even strimmed. Dave

    1. Hi Dave, the wild crocosmia is a real thug, isn’t it, I did have a small laugh to myself as I claimed to have dug it up, since I just know it will keep trying to sneak back in. Plus, ever a glutton for punishment, I am planting ‘Lucifer’ next to the elder, because I just really want to see those glorious red flowers against that black lacy foliage. Ooops, that conjured up all the wrong images suddenly, sorry about that!

  12. You’ve been very busy again! The path and herb bed looks great – very enviable. I never quite know where to put my herbs and they are a bit scattered around. I really love that Geum in your last photo. And your aquilegias have inspired me to order some plants quickly before it’s too late (never have much luck with seed) – Alpina, Chrysantha and Yellow Queen. :D

    1. Hi Cathy, I’ve had herbs in pots for years now, but they never seem to thrive enough for me to always be able to pick what I want. I am hoping that having a whole bed with full sun and poor soil, the rosemary and thyme will reward me with plenty of snippable growth. I grow mint in a barrel to stop it taking over, and coriander, chives and parsley in the veg beds. Gradually getting less scattered, hope you find scope for your own herb garden, I know how much you love to cook.

  13. I just love your herb bed, it’s perfectly placed. And I love the sound of the plants that are still to go in… but most of all I adore that geranium. Wanna, wanna!

    1. Hi Kate, if I manage to propagate it I’ll send you some – or we’ll actually manage to meet up! I am totally in love with my herb bed already, can’t wait until it is all billowing and wafty too.

  14. Hi Janet
    All seems hunky dory in your garden, so much going on. I like your clever slide show. Quite a bit of progress also going on here, (at last). What about that Geranium, New Dimension, looks and sounds very interesting and I must get the Astrantia Shaggy which seems to have caught the eye of many gardeners recently.

    1. Hi Alistair, certainly approaching hunky dory. I’m chuffed with the slideshow plugin, I really wanted something that worked well with tablets and phones. Still can’t believe that JetPack doesn’t! Good to hear that things are progressing at your house, hope you are delighted with it and can enjoy the summer. ‘Shaggy’ is a beauty, can’t get enough of it, and ‘New Dimension’ seems to be settling in well, a real find.

  15. Hello Janet, my first visit to your lovely garden, thanks for the tour :-) I also have a bit of a thing about colour clashes in the garden, but with such a small garden as I have it is impossible not to make a few clashes. I have opted for a reduced overall palette instead – still some clashes here and there, just not so many of them!

    1. Hi Helene, welcome to Anglesey! Thanks for popping over. A reduced palette is a good plan in a small space, I’d stupidly thought the comfrey had blue flowers, which would have been fine! Still, this is better, so all is well.

  16. Oh I smiled at your baby Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ Janet. It will be fun seeing it morph into a giant. Does your comfrey seed itself about or is the sterile Bockings variety? I have plants at the allotment which I should control better but the bees love the flowers and then before I know it the plants have once more dispersed their seed. Your new geranium is most darkly delicious – good on you for nobly rescuing it from the sales table.

    1. Hi Anna, I know, strange planting something so small knowing it will become such a statement. My comfrey is steriles, because I am a chicken, and I really must cut it down as it is collapsing under the weight of the flowers! The new geranium is proving an excellent find, already developing into quite a large a floriferous plant, I love it.

  17. Oooo! Exciting. I do like to see a cutting patch coming together. ;) I can’t wait to see all those hot colours as the summer progresses. Of all the fruit I wish I could grow it would be a cherry. They’re my favourite fruit but expensive to buy. Your garage wall looks like the perfect spot.
    I can recommend Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’. The colour isn’t perhaps as striking as ‘Moorheim Beauty’ but it’s a much more robust plant and flowers for much, much longer. My Moorheim Beauty is always attacked by slugs whereas Sahin’s isn’t troubled by them. No idea why.

    1. Hi Lou, I am watching all the lush foliage on the dahlias and wishing they would develop flowers already, most unfair to be so impatient! I have some zingy snapdragons waiting to harden off too, and have another mini patch alongside the greenhouse. Hopefully next year there will be colour from wallflowers and sweet rocket to bridge the gap. Getting there!

      Thank you for the ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ recommendation, that is going on the list, it looks wonderful, I shall plant it with something deep pink, and possibly an aconiutm in behind, definitely worth getting rid of a shrub that is failing to perform to add in those tasty plants, any recommendations on monardas that don’t get disease ridden as soon as they start flowering?

      1. Unfortunately the one and only monarda I grew had to be dug out. It would be mauled every year by snails and then succumb to mildew. It looked like the plant equivalent of a mangy fox. I am extremely envious of anyone who can grow them well. ;)

  18. I am also finding that with all the new plantings in my new garden, that it’s slower to get the flowers & colour. It does remind us of the importance of good foliage. I’m sure your plants will catch up soon and the flowers will be delighting you.

    Lemon Queen is a great plant, but does get really massive. I had to remove one and move another as it was taking over. It does flower for months and months and gives you lots of cut flowers, so it is really worth growing.

    Like Wellywoman, I love Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ (I even wrote a blogpost just on it, it’s that good: It seems to be quite tough and flowers for months and months.

    Your garden is coming along really well – you must be pleased. The flower pics are great.

    1. Thanks Julieanne, that helenium looks like a really good doer, definitely getting added to the list. Patience is definitely required when adding new plants, unless you fork out more for larger specimens. The great thing about perennials is that they do establish quickly, when you plant young shrubs it can feel like forever before they start to make a decent statement.

  19. My email notification of this post was buried in a sea of other emails – nearly missed it! Having seen your garden for real in December it is astonishing how different it is looking now and it shows just how much work you have put into since then. Your new beds look so neat and raring to be productive. Things like your geum will also be maturing before you know it. It’s hard to believe that a huge plant like Lemon Queen starts out as tiny as your little plant, but I have some cephalaria growing from seed and hopefully I can expect great things from them from what you say.

    1. Hi Cathy, so I got buried! I planted out ‘Red Dragon’ and three of the geraniums the other day, they seem to be settling in well, so thank you again! I am chuffed with the progress, it really feels as if the back garden is taking shape now, you should certainly see the difference next time you are back this way – with your new camper perhaps? The cephalaria is, well, vigorous, is the kind way of putting it. I am impressed you have managed to raise some from seed, it is something I have kept failing with, but it is a beautiful plant. I will feauture it in a blog post in a couple of weeks as it is about to start flowering.

  20. you know a couple years ago I would have agreed with you about orange and pink. But then some old forgotten pink roses sprung up in my yard, next to some orange daylilies. Must say I was smitten. It’s an odd combination for sure but I like it. Did you get someone to move the greenhouse for you? That must have been quite the job. Amazing how moving something even just a few feet though can make such a difference.

    1. Hi Marguerite, sorry it has taken so long to reply to you! Orange and pink is one of my favourite combinations, but it has to be the right orange with the right pink. Strong vivid orange with pale pink? Not for me…

  21. HI Janet, I love reading about your garden visions and how you go about achieving them. Good luck with the weeds. Helen’s meme is appealing to me too, and I keep meaning to join in. I wish the end of the month was a bit more flexible, but I guess that would make the world too chaotic, too much like Alice in Wonderland.

    1. Hi catmint, thank you, I find the whole process of attempting to turn my dreams into reality in the garden totally fascinating, and frequently impossible! But the attempt is fun. I know what you mean about the inflexibility of a meme tied to such a specific period, but lots of us join in late and still find it useful.

  22. I like your fern border, beautiful! Looking forward to seeing your cut flower patch develop. Beware of the seemingly tiny Lemon Queen as it’ll soon cover its companions. I love it and it’s delightful to watch the bees visiting the flowers. Star plant, also for the vase.

    1. Hi Annette, ‘Lemon Queen’ is still masquerading as a small and somewhat insignificant plant, I suspect if we have a spell of wetter weather this will change! I look forward to picking the flowers.

  23. Janet I love how you fit in the cutting bed and the herb garden….what a great combo of herbs…I planted a cherry in the meadow and may move it to a bed as it is young. And I adore that new geranium….everything looks so lush and its all filling in nicely!

    1. Hi Donna, the herb bed is a delight, I use it so often, and now that it is beginning to really get going and the bare earth is disappearing it is making a huge difference. I am very much looking forward to planting a cherry.

  24. I just love how far you’ve come with this garden! Your geranium reminds me of my ‘Johnson’s Blue’. The herb bed will be wonderful once it’s filled in and the dahlias and crocosmia together will be stunning. :o) I love hot, splashy colors in summer gardens.

    1. Hi, those hot splashy colours are finally starting to shine, and they are really making me smile! I know what you mean about the similarity to ‘Johnson’s Blue’, although the foliage is that wonderful purple which makes me smile, and I think it is taller. I do love geraniums.

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