I’m in denial. It can’t possibly be the end of September already, not least because it is still so warm and dry here. Only the soft quality of the light and the fact that it gets dark so much earlier really point to it being autumn now. Though a few of the shrubs and trees are beginning to take on autumnal hues.

The End of Month View is a wonderful meme hosted by Helen (Patient Gardener), and this month I thought I would concentrate on just two areas in my back garden, the Park Border and the Herb Bed. The Park Border has been through a number of iterations since I moved in just over two years ago. I always wanted to have good spring and winter interest, so planted hellebores, bulbs, dogwoods. But after that I got a little confused about what I wanted from it. I started out intending it to be a mix of edibles and ornamentals, but gradually over the past 18 months I have realised that I grudge the space for currants, and although I am happy to have rhubarb growing there, what I really want is patches of summer colour. Rich, vibrant colour. So I have been removing the currants, and adding perennial wallflowers, geraniums, geums, and latterly heleniums and that lovely thug, helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. And I am really happy with how it is starting to come together. This is the view as you walk into the garden from the path that runs alongside my hawthorn


The perennial wallflower, Erysium ‘Winter Orchid’, as been a delight, flowering non-stop from when I planted them out in early summer. I will be taking cuttings…


It seems to blend beautifully with the other flowering plants, Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ went well with it earlier on in the summer, and now it is looking good with that border stalwart, Geranium ‘Johnson’s BLue’.

I was really pleased with the Helenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’ that I planted further down, but loads of people mentioned that Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ was even better, so I succumbed. I bought three, though two were mailorder so arrived without flowers, and I love it.


I was lucky enough to see it “in the flesh”, so to speak, at both RHS Harlow Carr (you can see my photos on Flickr) and later at Sue Beeseley’s Bluebell Cottage Gardens (see flickr photos). Both places were inspirational, and I can thoroughly recommend the nursery attached to Sue’s gardens too, really knowledgeable and helpful staff. And it happens to be half way between my fil and sil in Leeds and home. Ooops…

Anyway, I also added the Miscanthus sinensis ‘Undine’, which only grows to a modest 1.8m (6′) and has gorgeous autumn colour – and very pretty flowers as you can see. I fell for Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ in Sue’s gardens, it has wonderfully elegant arching slender leaves with a fine white stripe, but rarely flowers. I didn’t care, and popped it in alongside the purple hazel as a foil for the Eupatorium I planted at the back. Again, having seen it flowering again in all its glory at both Harlow Carr and Bluebell Cottage I just couldn’t resist.

The helenium and miscanthus are complemented by the monster Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, which has only been in the ground a couple of months but is flowering its socks of, I love it almost as much as the bees do.


You might remember that I hard-pruned the Griselinia a few months ago, and was undecided about how much more to take out. I decided – much neater, and it now allows more light into the very end of the border at this time of year.


Further down the border it becomes more dominated by shrubs, including the Edgeworthia that has been taking its time to settle in. This area is beginning to fill out nicely, and will have bulbs, primroses and hellebores to give interest in the spring, but there isn’t much room to add perennials.


I really like all the different foliage colours and textures, and the wallflowers and geraniums to add some colour here, but I think that’s why I ended up wanting to remove the currants further down towards the house, I wanted the border to work harder all year round in terms of providing me with colour, and getting rid of them has given me just enough room for a group of later summer flowering perennials. And for once a whisper of an idea I had a while ago, to create a lovely framed colourful view through the study door, has worked:


Oh, and the plant pot marks where a lovely persicaria is going to go…

I’ve done a bit of moving around up near the acer, but decided not to try and move the acer itself in the end. Instead I have planted another Griselinia alongside the bamboo to (eventually) provide some evergreen structure (and a strong contrast to the acer itself), and have moved the red dogwood to give it more room, planting it behind the pear tree in front of the stump.


It has plenty of room to grow large, which it should do, and the evening sun should catch it beautifully. It also helped me shuffle some more plants around to make room for a bargain, a Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’, Golden Dogwood. It was a rescue plant, langushing in a 5l pot all covered in moss and hopelessly potbound, but it was only £4.50 so I figured it deserved a chance.


The golden stems should work beautifully with the yellow flowers of the Mahonia and the Coronilla, and the green stemmed dogwood further along.

Here is the view looking back along the Park Border from the acer:


As to the herb bed, I have discovered that TNG and I mean rather different things by “opening up the entrance to the garden”. In my head, tall and wafty Verbena bonariensis is still allowed, as you can see through it.



Apparently TNG strongly disagrees! Oops. The herb bed has gone from strength to strength since I planted it, and I have to keep ripping out the feverfew, which clearly loves it there, but change is afoot, and not just because I have undertaken to give in to TNG and move the V.B.


TNG has been moving slabs again, and not do shift the path away from the wall as we originally planned. Good thing he got distracted by sailing, as we have decided to solve the noxious problem of the leaking oil tank by switching over to an Air Source Heat Pump. Our lovely installer has put together a great deal for us, and we are putting in a very efficient model that should cope with a retrofit to a radiator system just fine, but the price is that it is rather large, and will sit right there, on those slabs. So the herb bed will get re-designed, probably next Spring, when we will make it into an ‘L’ shape and take the opportunity to widen the path that runs alongside the greenhouse, as it will become the only path into the garden. So I will enjoy the herb bed “As Is” for now, but not plant any bulbs or wallflowers. It will be a case of evolution rather than revolution, and I am hoping to persuade TNG that a but of tall waftiness would be just perfect for hiding the ASHP as you round the corner…

So, that’s my back garden at the end of September. Do check out the other posts linked to Helen’s End of Month View!

52 thoughts on “End of Month View September 2014

  1. I am hankering after that Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’ now. It looks just the thing to unite the mix of oranges and pinks that I now appear to have at one end of the terraces. I’d agree with you about the Verbena, a bit of waftiness works wonders, not least when you have something to disguise. I’d be interested to hear how you get on with the ASHP, we need to replace our 30 year old boiler. Can’t help but think it is living on borrowed time.

    1. Hi Jessica, I could see ‘Winter Orchid’ working really well for you on your terrace. If I get some cuttings to take I’ll happily send you some. Re ASHP, the tricky thing is making sure you get a really efficient one that works well even when it has to operate at higher temperatures than if it is driving underfloor heating. We are having to get four radiators upgraded to larger, more efficient units, but we are lucky in that we have insulated cavity walls and loads of loft insulation. I understand they can be trickier to install in older properties with more drafts and less insulation, and can then be expensive to run. You would probably find that your would be recommended to go with a Biomass boiler, using pellets or logs. We looked at it, but they are more expensive to install and then there is ongoing maintenance and regular filling of the hoppers. The beauty of the ASHP is that once it is installed, you just leave it to get on with it. Plus I get extra cupboard space, and the old water tank is being replaced with one that will live in the garage instead… I’ll keep you posted!

  2. You have done so much work in the two years you have been there. I love the eyrisium, such a pretty colour. To have your Johnsons Blue still flowering is a bonus. I love verbena wafting around like a blue/purple cloud, every garden should have some. Thank you for sharing your garden.

    1. Hi Ronnie, thank you, I am very happy (finally!) with how the back garden is coming together, it begins to have a definite “feel” to it, which is something I had been struggling with as I attempted to get it to do far too many different things at the same time!

  3. You have been very busy Janet and the garden is looking fab! The lushness will linger for awhile before the need to cut back beckons. Great to see an update of your garden again :)

    1. Thank you! I’m looking forward to the dogwoods putting on more growth over this coming year, and I am frankly amazed at how happy the edgeworthia looks given the lack of rain. I need to plant more bulbs though, but there again, isn’t that always true?

  4. I see you have discovered my local nursery Janet :) Your herb bed looks fabulous – what a shame that changes are afoot but I suppose it’s a case of needs must. No doubt you will inject a shot or two of fabulous tall purple waftiness elsewhere. Isn’t ‘Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ fascinating – I love the way the colour of the flowers change.

    1. Heck Anna, I’d be bankrupt if that was my local nursery! How do you cope? And if you are that close, maybe we could try and meet up if we are passing by en route to Leeds? And did you still want some lychnis?

  5. That park border on the slight incline is pretty. I like your combination of plants there–it looks very professional, yet in a welcoming, warm kind of way. Sounds like you’ve had some challenges with your heating system, but it’s good to hear you have it under control now. I hope this will keep your home toasty and comfortable during the cooler season ahead. We’ve had warmer weather until now, too, but we just dramatically rounded the corner yesterday. No frost is predicted for the next 10 days, so hopefully I’ll be able to harvest a few more veggies before the cold sets in. The Verbena bonariensis is lovely and seems to have a valid claim on a place in your herb garden. :)

    1. Thank you Both, what a great compliment. Its hard not to be nervous about the heat pump, just because it is still relatively new technology, but I love that we will be free of oil soon, the stink when the tank leaked was horrendous, and I was lucky not to lose lots of plants. I hope the frost stays away a while longer, these last harvests of summer veg are particularly precious, aren’t they. What we need most is rain!

  6. As women and as gardeners it is our prerogative to change our minds at will…as long as our backs hold out.

  7. Janet – I am absolutely gob-smacked by your borders! Admittedly it was December when we saw the ‘real thing’ but these pictures show just how much you have achieved with your shifting around and additions and everything. I am also (dare I say it?) a tad envious that you have all this colour still at the end of September – and I am sure they haven’t just turned up there toes now it has ticked over to October! I may be able to produce those bright blooms for my vase, but they were from three plants in the cutting beds and that is more or less it for colour, other than some sweet peas and pots. Well done you! And I shall be interested in hearing about (and seeing) your boiler as I would like to go greener when we replace ours in the next year or two.

    1. *blush* I will be doing cuttings of the wallflower, would you like some if they work? They have been amazing for keeping co!our going through the summer, and the colours seem to go with just about anything, I’m thrilled with them. I’ll certainly post about the ASHP, it will be so nice to no longer need oil deliveries, I just hope we did all our sums right!!

  8. What a lovely combination of foliage and flowers you have. I can see you have put a lot of thought into it. H. Lemon Queen looks lovely with the black Sambucus. I love the Erysimum too.
    My vote is for the Verbena bonariensis. It looks fabulous.

    1. Thank you Chloris, the sambucus makes a lovely backdrop. In fairness to TNG, I don’t think he dislikes v.b. per se, he just doesn’t like peering through waftiness! His Mum is the same.

  9. It is sort of funny that we start with ideas for a border to be interesting in one season and then want to stretch that to more all round interest. I love all that you’re doing Janet and I think it is right to change an idea and not let things be set in stone. I really want to renew the back border, not the Spring walk but the area behind that and reading what you’ve been doing makes me want to begin now!

    1. Yes, were a greedy lot, aren’t we Christina! I shall look forward to seeing your border revamp. I do love the fact that a garden is never finished, there is always more to learn, experiment with etc.

  10. It really was such a good month which has reflected in gardens like yours which still has so much of interest in flower.
    Terrific photos, I especially like the helianthus with the bee on it.
    I’m all in favour of evolution rather than revolution as it’s far easier to adapt and change, which we so often end up doing in gardens. xx

    1. Thank you! I agree Flighty, our gardens, like us, have to adapt and change. I’ve really enjoyed the process of feeling my way forward with this border, and the helianthus is a wonderful plant, always alive with insects.

  11. It’s hard not to be in denial isn’t it? But it sounds as though you had a full and happy summer. I enjoyed looking at your greenhouse which looks as though it got/or is getting a lot of use. Will you overwinter many plants in there? I know we have similar climates–England and the Pacific Northwest where I am. Happy Autumn Janet! Look at it this way….now you have more time to write! You are a wonderful writer.

    1. Hi Susan, I keep meaning to do another greenhouse post, the tomatoes have been a mixed bag this year, but the chillies are great, and soon I will be planting out salads for over wintering.

  12. Yum, some of my favourite plants are taking the stage at the moment, in your garden, Janet ! Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ is featuring on several blogs at the moment, and everyone praises it so highly. It is one I must buy . I have just bought 8 baby Erysimums, two of which are ‘Winter Orchid’. Yours are the first I have seen in flower, and they are really gorgeous. I am also a sucker for Verbena Bonariensis and have the smaller ‘Lollipop’ as well, which isn’ t as wafty!

    1. HiJane, just give Lemon Queen plenty of elbow room!! She’s a beautiful thug… “Winter Orchid” is a real find, it flowers every bit as well as Bowler’s Mauve, so if over winters well I will certainly be using it elsewhere. I look forward to seeing your others, always room for more colour… I need to try lollipop as I hate staking…

  13. Hi Janet,

    Looking good! and I don’t even really see much sign of season change. Lucky you.

    Your Verbenas look far more impressive than mine; generally it’s just one plant here and there – self seeders – and they don’t look anything as impressive. It’s a shame you need to move them; but then you have plenty of space to play with elsewhere :)

    1. Hi Liz, no, no real signs of autumn as yet, though I here that all might be about to change! I was never as successful with v.b. in my previous garden, but it loves the free draining soil I have here. Maybe in your next garden?!

  14. Janet your park border looks lovely, the red dogwood will show up well with the ivy behind it and I like the idea of reflecting the yellow dogwood with the flowers of shrubs, I like the logs under the ivy behind the red dogwood, for wildlife I am thinking, just lovely, the wallflower does look good and I like the combination changes in mood, hot with the tangerine geum and cool with johnsons blue geranium, I’m with you on the see through verbena and the herb bed looks fabulous, lots more changes ahead, your comment about not wanting to see the fruit bushes reminds me how lucky I am as you can’t see my fruit garden unless you approach it, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, I may be able to grow some soft fruit round the corner in a side border that TNG has been clearing, but I fear it will be needed for boat storage! I love dogwoods, and it is great to have some space to allow them to really show off. A neighbour has one that glows like flames against those amazing blue winter skies you get by the sea, I hope to have a little dose of that. The log pile is gradually rotting down, so I keep adding to it, and thinking I should do a poist about all the mosses and funginthat are colonising it and the stump, it is a lovely feature. I want to get some good ferns to complement the stump and dogwood, and give more cover for critters.Oh, and grow erythroniums!

  15. That Erysimum is on my shopping list Janet! It will have to wait till spring though now… Your border is looking wonderful and I do like that Helianthus. You’ve done a great job there Janet! And I love your Verbena bonariensis – all that light purple airiness looks so good in that bed, so hope a compromise can be reached!

    1. Hi Cathy, the erysium is a real winner, you will love it. And TNG is very good at compromise, so the v.b. will find a new home next spring, I’m sure.

  16. am glad you solved the problem of the attention seeking acer, Janet. Busy borders with a lot of comings and goings and herb beds in the remaking yet for all that the plants look settled. Another of your plants I’ve had to look up – Edgeworthia – fabulous!

    1. The Acer will have some competition and some support, I hope! I also have my eye on a rather lovely holly I saw in a local garden centre… And then of course there are the ferns crying out to be planted in that corner… Hopefully the border can relax a little now, and settle in to its new order. Edgeworthia has stunning foliage, but it is the flower buds I am still watching for in vain…

  17. I’m in denial as well, but there is little either one of us can do about it. I think I am tired of looking at other people’s Heleniums, and I must break down and get one of my own. They grow wild in the wet areas around here.

    1. Hi Les, there is a certain inevitability about it all, isn’t there! And I do love autumn. Enjoy selecting heleniums for your garden! They do have a rather lovely form, but their legs aren’t up to much. There again, I am in no position to criticise, and a persicaria should solve that little problem beautifully!

  18. I really like the view of the Park Border from the acer. It gives a sense of the whole and shows it to be a very attractive space. Sahin’s Early Flower is a wonderful plant and I’m sure you won’t regret it. It’s a good cutting plant; I’ve found the more I took cuttings for the house, the more it would grow. So enjoy.

    TNG should really rethink the Verbena bonariensis. It adds structure that can be appreciated over a long period of time, it’s great for pollinators as the butterflies love it, and if you leave it through winter, goldfinches will visit to eat it’s seed. What’s not to love?! In fact, I’m going to add some to my herb bed, which I feel can look a bit flat at times – the height and waftiness of Verbena bonariensis is just’s what’s needed :)

    1. I’m happy with how it is starting to pull together, and yes, everyone says that heleniums is wonderful for cutting too, so something to look forward to for next year. I appear to have given the wrong impression re TNG and the v.b. though, he quite likes it elsewhere, and I do have lots elsewhere, he just doesn’t like it right there as you walk in to the back garden… Well be replanning the area come Spring anyway, once the ASHP is installed, I’m sure we’ll come up with something we are both happy with!

  19. I love the herb bed,

    I’m hoping my perennial wallflowers have settled in and soon show themselves as I can’t remember where I put all of them/

    1. Ah yes, I frequently have that problem, I glance at a birder, think I have a gap, buy a plant for it, only to discover that there was already something there, just taking its time to settle in…

  20. That border has filled out marvellously, lovely combination of textures of foliage and flowers already, and will surely go from strength to strength as you tinker on with it! My mum gave me a plant of ‘Winter Orchid’ and I am also enjoying its rainbow-flowers immensely, here they are complemented by the orange and magenta dahlias and blowsy purple annual asters blooming around the plant.
    Undine is a great choice too – I bought a plant last year at Great Dixter, and it seems to have settled in well, producing even more of those beautiful dark red flowers this year that slowly fade to biscuit. I like the way that patches of dark red appear on the ‘knuckles’ of some of the stems too, and its delicate stripy leaves are so pretty.

    1. Hi Sara, yes, I think its ability to blend so well with all my favourite colours is one of the things I love about Winter Orchid. I bet you find yourself taking cuttings… I don’t think I ncan cram an aster in though, which is a shame. Undine sounds interesting, will check it out, thank you!

  21. How lovely the Park border is looking at this time of year. I’m very drawn to the Lemon Queen and will get one when I can decide where to put it. The neighbours have an 8 foot high specimen…
    I hadn’t thought of using perennial wallflowers to link the late colours, but it looks very good in your border.
    Good luck with the installation of the ASHP. I hope it ties the trick.

    1. Hi Judith, thank you, I am pleased with how it is adding more colour now, but ‘Lemon Queen’ definitely needs a strong corset, she got rather blown around by the recent gales! The perennial wallflowers are a revelation to me, they flower for so long, and these particulal ones seem to go with so many different colours they are dream border glue!

      ASHP installation starts on Monday, fingers and toes firmly crossed that all goes smoothly…

  22. I cannot get over how fast your garden grows Janet…where to begin. That park border is grown in with lovely color. And I love the herb bed…its wildness is right up my alley. Oh and Lemon Queen grows to about 3-4 feet in height and stays pretty controlled for me as a native…but I can see where she can get out of control. I have a different helianthus that does that. But how can you not love those yellow flowers covered in bees.

    1. Hi Donna, I am quickly finding that everything grows really fast here, it is making establishing new borders far easier but also probably means I will spend a lot of time dividing and moving plants around… For instance, ‘Lemon Queen’ is already 5’… But I don’t mind, I like her stature, I just need to stake her!

  23. Winter orchid is going in the plant notebook. Anything that flowers over such a long period has to welcomed into the garden. It’s heartening to see how established your garden is looking in such a relatively short space of time. It’s a while since I’ve been to Harlow Carr, we sometimes stop off on the way to my parents. It’s a lovely place. I must try and get there next year. Amazing book shop too. Pleased to see you got some ‘Early Sahin’. Hope you have a lovely weekend, looks like it might be a good one for a spot of gardening.

    1. ‘Winter Orchid’ is one of my finds of the year! I hope it survives the winter, but I will hopefully have cuttings just in case. Are things still up in the air re moving for you? I have been delighted at how quickly I have settled in to gardening in a new location, and how quickly I feel a garden taking shape around me, I thought it would be years before I felt properly comfortable again, I spent so long with the old one, but starting again is invigorating. Harlow Carr was wonderful, I will hope to go again, but there are so many great gardens within easy reach of Leeds, it will be hard to limit myself! ‘Early Sahin’ is proving delightful, so thank you for that recommendation!

      1. Yep, still up in the air. We’ll have to start to come to some decisions soon though. It’s good to see that you’ve settled in so quickly. It gives me hope that it won’t be too tortuous a process. ;) I need that invigoration though. I thought I’d completely lost my mojo a week or so ago. I just couldn’t explain it but it was just so hard to muster up the enthusiasm. Then I visited a friend in Edinburgh. She’s a gardener up there and so passionate about what she does I came away buzzing.

        There are some fab gardens in that area. Well there are so many all over the country, just never enough time to see them all.

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