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.

The herb bed

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.

perovskia, sedum and sage

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:

Small White butterfly on wallflower Winter Orchid
Erysium ‘Winter Orchid’
Nepeta Blue Dreams
Nepeta ‘Blue Dreams’
helenium moorheim beauty
Helenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’
hoverfly on dahlia summertime
Dahlia ‘Summertime’

Its still not exactly overwhelming with colour, not least because the plants are small, but the small dots of colour are encouraging.

park border

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.

edgeworthia leaves

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.

park border gaps

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.

back border left hand gap

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.

peacock on borage

I am a little disconcerted at how enormous the honesty leaves are though, apparently they make a good resting place for bees!

bee on honesty leaf

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.

blank space

new border

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.

Do check Helen’s blog to get links to lots of other End Of Month Reviews.

44 thoughts on “End of Month View August 2014

    1. Hi Alison, thank you, I am really pleased with the herb garden. Clearly I just needed to threaten the edgeworthia!

  1. The herb garden is looking perfect Janet! As for the Edgeworthia it looks like it is indirectly begging you to let it stay where it is. Looking forward to seeing the progress of your back border, and Forest Pansy is an excellent choice, we love this tree!

    1. Hi guys, not quite perfect, there is lots of chickweed lurking under the foliage, but thank you, I am really pleased with it. The Edgeworthia is looking rather wonderful at the moment, I suspect it might have won itself a reprieve. I fell in love with ‘Forest Pansy’ years ago when I saw it used in a show garden at Westonbirt, its a real beauty, isn’t it. Can’t wait to get one in the ground and surrounded by other lovelies.

  2. Glad to see you are still plotting and planning Janet. The herb garden is looking glorious, the verbena and knautia are an inspired touch. Another idea I am just going to have to nick.

    1. Well they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! I am really loving the convenience of the herb bed. As to the plotting and planning, it never stops, my brain is a very noisy place.

  3. Oh, it’s great that you have so many pollinators (bees included)! The butterflies are gorgeous. I’m so impressed with your creativity and organization skills, Janet. Usually, it seems people have one or the other gift, but you have both. Your back garden is so pretty!

    1. Thank you Beth, I am really happy to have so many pollinators visiting the garden now, I am looking forward to adding crocuses and snowdrops for early nectar too. Its the garden and gardening that really pout me in touch with my creativity, I’d always thought of myself as really lacking in that area, but I love experimenting with planting combinations.

  4. Lots of moving around on the cards.

    Love the herb bed and you are right to move the hazel – ours on the plot are huge now and not a very pretty sight.

    1. Hi Sue, thanks for the hazel confirmation. I am starting a list of bulbs to add to the herb bed…

  5. Your herb bed is such a success and I agree that you have done the right thing in moving the hazel, we have a few here and I’m glad they aren’t in a prominent position. I must keep them as our dormouse loves the few nuts that they provide! You are full of ideas again, it’s lovely to see the way your mind is working, I know the end result will be wonderful!

    1. Hi Pauline, thank you for confirming my feelings about the hazel, I do like the idea of dormice noshing on your hazelnuts. And thank you for the vote of confidence, I am still at the “too many ideas swirling around” stage at the moment, but it should become clear in time.

  6. Your herb garden looks both colourful and delicious Janet. Some herbs such as thyme make for excellent ornamental plants and their flowers are bee magnets too. I wonder what you are feeding the knautia with to produce such height. No doubt that you will have much enjoyment planning your new border.

    1. Hi Anna, the height on the knautia is astounding, I’ve never seen it behave like that, and there shouldn’t be anything much in the way of nutrients in the soil, it was where the greenhouse path used to be! I am having a lovely time writing lists of plants, crossing them out, adding them back in. Sadly, whenever I actually go outside and look at the actual space available, it is never is much as I manage to create for myself when sat indoors plotting and planning…

  7. Goodness another month gone already.
    As always an enjoyable and interesting post with wonderful photos, especially the peacock butterfly on the borage. Flighty xx

    1. Hi Flighty, I was really chuffed to finally capture the peacock butterfly, I never usually seem to manage to be in the right place at the right time with my camera! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. I love the herb bed. How nice to have all your herbs right by the kitchen for easy access while cooking. I currently have all my herbs in containers, but I’m looking to move them to more permanent spots in the garden beds to allow them to flourish more. And it is so exciting to have a new bed to plant! Have fun!

    1. Hi Rebecca, I’ve grown all my herbs in pots for years, and it works fine, but I am terrible at watering, and I am frankly amazed at how much better the thyme is doing now that it is in the ground. Things like coriander and parsley get planted in the veg beds wherever I have room, but having somewhere for all the Mediterranean-style herbs is wonderful.

  9. Aren’t these End of Month View posts great for getting plans of your chest? You’ve some great sounding plans and hope they finally come to fruition Janet.
    Jealous of your planned Cercis, they don’t do well up here but are a wonderful addition to any garden. It’s a beauty! Your herb bed is wonderful and very odd that the Knautia is taller than the Verbena. The whole bed really does ‘work’ and can only get better.

    1. They are Angie, they really help me think things through, and the comments can be amazingly helpful too. I think the knautia must be a mutant… Such a shame you can’t grow the cercis, it is a lovely plant.

  10. The herb garden really does look great Janet. And the Verbena and Knautia brighten it up a bit too, but the russian sage steals the show! It sounds as if your plans are all falling into place now, and the borders look lovely already. A tall dramatic plant is something I have also been looking for to fill an odd corner with little space where my Cimicifuga was (eaten by slugs and snails) and I have decided on a Thalictrum, probably the same one I have in a different spot called “Elin”, as I love it so much. It might be a candidate for the back of your border?

    1. Hi Cathy, the perovskia is rather wonderful isn’t it. How ever did I manage for so long without them! I am going to look up the thalictrum, I am in love with them, and I think they might be wonderful in the new back bed. The park border will be filled with bold colours as it is the only place I really have for them. Might a cephelaria gigantea fit the bill for your corner? I am seriously thinking about using it again in the back garden I love it so much…

      1. The cephalaria is definitely going in the rockery… a space is reserved! So the other spot will probably be the Thalictrum. They are such lovely plants I could plant them everywhere!

  11. Janet, as other have said your herb bed is lovely, you have come a long way in a short time, I was thinking as I read your post and the plants that aren’t working for you that a plant has to perform well quickly or it is out ;) some of the gaps look like they will be filled in time as the plants around them mature, I love the blue of the nepeta and the peacock butterfly is beautiful, they don’t come this far north, enjoy all your plotting and planning it’s half the fun, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, I am pretty ruthless when it comes to plants, they have to really earn their place, but then I am lucky in that I have good growing conditions so most things don’t need the extra time you have to provide in order to get established. And yes, I think the gardening I do in my head, or while pouring over books, blogs and magazines, is as exciting and enjoyable in its way as the outdoor gardening!

  12. Your herb bed is a delight! I love the different color sages with the sedum–nice combination. I got such a kick out of your talking about the romping rosemary. In my experience, rosemary always romps, to the point of driving out everything around it in time. But I am a sucker for the deep blue rosemary hybrid and if anyone here happens to know the proper name for that variety, I would sure like to know. Next week, I hope to do my end of the month summer photos. The garden really is looking great thanks to one terrific rain storm in the middle of all our very hot days.

    1. Hi Susie, when we first arrived here a neighbour showed me round her garden and I was shocked at how huge everything was. She laughed and kept pointing at shrubs that were over six feet tall and saying “that’s supposed to be dwarf”. Her rosemary is gigantic, I plan to keep mine to a hedge no taller than three feet. We’ll see!

  13. I love your herb bed too. I am jealous of your Edgeworthia, I have lost 2 now and suppose I will have to give up trying. The Forest Pansy is just fantastic, you won’ t regret it.
    I love the way you plot and plan and dream about what you are going to plant. I do the same thing, it keeps me awake at night sometimes. And as you say there is never enough space for everything you want to plant.

    1. Hi Chloris, good to know you are as obsessive as I am about your gardening – does your garden get bigger as you lie awake at night planning glorious planting schemes?! Mine always does. I promised myself that when we moved here I wouldn’t mindlessly recreate the same “look”, but would embrace the opportunity to try new plants. The edgeworthia is part of that, but if it proves too troublesome its out, the garden is too small for me to tolerate plants that don’t pull their weight. Forest Pansy, on the other hand, is a plant I really miss from my old garden, and like miscanthus, I feel after two years the call is insistent enough to be answered. Now I just have to decide which miscanthus, how many and where…

  14. Your herb garden is lovely, Janet. The tall flowers really provide a nice contrast. It’s always fun to have a new area to plant–glad you’ve found a space for a ‘Forest Pansy’; that’s a redbud I’ve been wanting for a long time, too. I do love your butterfly–is it a peacock?–we don’t have them over here!

    1. Hello Rose, I wanted some height in the border to make a mini screen for the shed, and to add a little mystery to the entrance to the garden. I am pleased with how it is working, though I never expected the knautia to grow so tall. ‘Forest Pansy’ seems to be one of those plants that nearly everybody loves, easy to see why, I hope you find room for one of your own. Yes, sorry I should have given it a caption, it is a Peacock.

  15. I am convinced that plants can hear us conspire to move them and know just when to shape up and start behaving. I really like that you’re thinking about how the plants will look at night. So few of us do that. But to have a grouping of white plants shining in the moonlight will be magical. :)

    1. I am sure they do, but I think you have to be serious about it too, they seem to sense when you are just desperately trying to chivy them. Or am I going mad… I like the idea of white plants shining out in the moonlight, but I keep being seduced by plants with dusky purple of green flowers, so it might be just a few white accents!

  16. Janet as soon as I saw the herb bed I was overwhelmed…it is stunning and I need to get mine in shape. You have spurred me on to get going and finally plan a decent herb bed. And I like the idea of adding miscanthus back to your border. It will look wonderful especially in winter.

    1. Hi Donna, sorry, I am very behind on my blog reading/writing/commenting! Delighted you like the herb bed, and I am quite sure that you will create a really stunning one yourself, you have so much knowledge. I have one miscanthus ready to add in to the border, I am debating how many others I can add…

  17. The herb bed looks lovely. What colour are you planning to paint the shed? It’s so interesting to see a garden come together and all the decisions you’re making. I feel I should be taking notes for the future. ;)

    1. Thanks Lou! The shed will become black, like all of the woodwork in the garden, it should make a wonderful foil for the blues and silvers in the herb bed. I am rather excited at the idea of watching you take on a new garden – any closer to working out where and when that might happen? I am finding the process of starting again immensely invigorating, though it does rather tend to take over my life, you have been warned… Perhaps in between books?!

      1. I love the idea of the black. We were watching a George Clarke restore a house programme and they used wood to clad the house but they blow torched the wood first so that they blackened it. Not only did it waterproof it because the resins in the wood were released, it also looked incredible. I’m excited by the idea too. I feel I need to be reinvigorated. This is my first real garden and I’ve learnt so much and made lots of mistakes, it would be good to start a fresh with new ideas. Unfortunately we’re no further forward trying to work out where we will be. There are lots of meetings coming up in September at Ian’s work to explain what is happening and then we need to start making plans. I’ve started looking on rightmove at some places. We’ve got analysis paralysis at the moment though. Too much to think about, it’s just overwhelming really. And all a little awkward for my work now. Trying to pitch ideas not knowing if I’ll have a garden next year is a bit difficult. I should be doing my bulb orders too but I’m stuck in limbo. I might get some but just do them in pots then at least we can take them with us. It’s more the psychological thing that thinking you’re moving does. Gardening is about the future, as soon as you don’t think your garden is the future then trying to keep an interest going is difficult. We’ll get there, I just wish we had a crystal ball. ;)

        1. Black makes plants look amazing! Just one of the things I am glad I have had a chance to try out. What you said was all painfully familiar – the sense of not knowing whether it is worth emotionally – or financially – investing in your current garden is a real pain, at least for me it didn’t impact my professional life as well. This is only my second garden, and the chance to start again, try new things, get to grips with different soil and climate, is truly wonderful. But I still remember the three years of uncertainty that led up to it. The one thing I do think I learnt from that rollercoaster was that, without spending loads of money on big changes or expensive plants, don’t stop nurturing yourself through playing in your garden, including ordering a few bulbs. When you have no real idea how long you will be staying it is worth still sowing a few seeds and planting a few – cheap! – new things to make you smile and let you experiment. That way if it ends up taking longer you are still feeding that bit of yourself and nurturing the garden too. But I do hope you get to make a whole new set of mistakes in a new garden soonish, ‘cos I am loving it, mistakes and all!

          1. Thanks for the advice. I think you’re right. The garden is so fundamental to my well-being that I can’t imagine not being able to plan it over the winter. Even if I’m just doing a few things it’s better than nothing. It’s a bit weird because I’m now looking at houses on the internet so it’s a bit like being torn in two. Oddly I don’t feel too emotionally attached to my garden but I know I’ll be incredibly sad to have to say goodbye to my allotment. I’m not sure why that is.
            I spotted a house the other day and the garden was ripe for attention. I was looking at it thinking where I could put a greenhouse and veg beds. We can’t move yet – I need to get the shoots for the book finished and then we need to see what is happening with Ian’s job but it’s good to see what is out there. I remember how frustrated you were and I so hope we don’t have to wait 3 years. Patience isn’t my strong point ;) Thank you for your tips I really appreciate it. x

  18. Ha ha! A Forest Pansy your way comes! Hurrah for finding the perfect spot. The herb bed is looking great – much happier than ours which had a severe talking to a few months ago, when we lifted everything to weed the bed before replanting and mulching.

    1. Hi Sara, all I have to do now is find a ‘Forest Pansy’ to buy that won’t bankrupt me! Not sure when they got to be so expensive, the one I bought for my first garden wasn’t. Ah well, she will be worth it! And I picked up some lovely plants to go with her on my recent trip to the garden center… Sounds as if you have your herb bed well in hand, I am slightly alarmed at how quickly everything is growing in mine, I think I will find myself having to do some drastic thinning next year. But at least I finally have some V. bonariensis self seeding, which I had given up on!

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