So that was July then. After the long hot dry spell the weather is now cooler, and all my water butts are full again. At least this is making the newly planted plants happy, not to mention the trees. I’m a day late (went for a lovely walk along a new bit of the Anglesey Coastal Footpath yesterday) but I am joing in with Helen’s End of Month View again, and am reviewing progress in the back garden.
There’s no question about which area of the back garden I am most happy with, the new herb bed is filling out beautifully, and makes it a doddle to snip herbs for a meal, whatever the weather is doing. The thyme plants that came from splitting one of those “living herbs” pots from the supermarket and loving being in the soil rather than the small trough, and the rosemary is romping away too. The knautia I planted to add wafty colour is growing so well it is taller than the Verbena bonariensus, which is a little ridiculous, but best of all, the combination of Russian sage, purple culinary sage and purple leaved sedum is really beautiful.
I’m really happy with it, but I really must get on and paint the shed, it will then provide the perfect backdrop.
Elsewhere, the Park border is having a bit of an identity crisis. I started out firmly intending to grow a mix of edible perennial fruit and shrubs for spring and autumn colour, but found I really wanted to make it more colourful in summer, when we sit out there so often. Apart from the soon-to-be-monstrous Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, I have added quite a few plants to give colour, including these:
Its still not exactly overwhelming with colour, not least because the plants are small, but the small dots of colour are encouraging.
I still find myself rethinking the whole border though. The two currant bushed won’t ever provide a huge amount of fruit, and the birds stripped the one plant that did produce a good harvest before we got near them. I really don’t want to net them where they are, it will look ugly, so I am hoping to be able to move them come Autumn, and re-work the border by adding more perennials and making it a mostly ornamental bed. I also want to add some miscanthus, I find I am missing them terribly, and they will complement the winter colour from the dogwoods. Oh, and I am also thinking about moving the Edgeworthia. I planted it for its wonderful foliage and the winter flowers, but it is taking up prime border real estate, and up until these past couple of weeks had been performing badly too. It must have heard me plotting and planning though, because it is suddenly looking really healthy, and the foliage complements the scorpion vetch beautifully, just as I had hoped. I may have to wait and see what it does for the rest of the year, and concentrate on growing tall perennials behind it.
I have decided to add a black stemmed bamboo to the left of the black elder, partly to help conceal the trellis and the building behind, but also because I like threes, and I already have two bamboos. I’ll plant winter flowering clematis on the trellis behind the elder in the autumn, but I like the idea of the movement and the sound that the bamboo will provide, and the black stems will pick out the colour of the leaves on the elder too.
I’m also going to move one of the dogwoods to just in front of that mahonia, I’ll be able to see it more easily there, and it is getting swamped by the somewhat thuggish but invaluable Euphorbia robbiae where it is at the moment. I’m not sure the winter sun will catch the stems quite as perfectly, so I may change my mind and move the euphorbia instead!
There is another big gap right at the back in the corner, and I want something tall and quite dramatic for it.
I’ll be removing a hazel that is currently planted just to the left of the gap. It was a self-sown seedling rescued from my old garden, and I had intended to grow it as a source of poles in time, but I think that’s the kind of thing you need to use a less obvious space for. I think I will be able to plant it around the side of the house near the compost bins instead. I’ll replace it with a third Griselinia – threes again – which will not only give me evergreen screening for the rather tatty shed in the garden behind, but will also help anchor the acer and provide a strong contrast to the foliage too. So in an idea world I think I would like to plant a lime green leaved acer in the gap, but I fear my budget might put paid to that, at least for now. Still, the insects are enjoying the park border, the self seeded borage is constantly buzzing, and more recently I have been seeing butterflies enjoying the flowers.
I am a little disconcerted at how enormous the honesty leaves are though, apparently they make a good resting place for bees!
Finally, thanks to TNG, the rest of the back border has finally been marked out and edged. It gives me a lovely large partially shady border to plant up, and I have already put some Japanese wineberries in that I had in pots, as well as the rest of the Geranium phaeum that Cathy gave me and a pretty little white flowered sanguisorba.
I’m going to have loads of fun planning out the rest of this border, lots of lovely foliage plants, lots of white and pale flowers to shine out of an evening, and the plant pot marks where the Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ is going to be. I am quite ridiculously excited about having finally worked out where I can have one, it is one of my all-time favourite plants, and it will carry on the purple foliage theme beautifully.