The Spring Walk – Back Border

I mentioned last autumn that I was extending and changing the planting in the back border to create a spring walk.  I was also toying with the idea of adding a pleached hedge of Lime (Tilia) or Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus).  I’m still thinking about this as maybe a pleached hedge would block out a lot of the sky from my kitchen window (not so good); it would also obscure the view of the nearest house (good).

The back border was originally hurriedly planted in spring of 2008.

Festuca glauca and Stipa tenuissima were added fillers

Festuca glauca and Stipa tenuissima were added fillers, October 2008

I planted Verbena bonariensis everywhere when I was beginning the garden

I planted Verbena bonariensis everywhere when I was beginning the garden

Looking towards the Mulberry, October 2008

Looking towards the Mulberry, October 2008.  The lemon verbena has been moved

I didn’t prepare this bed well so I added a weed suppressant membrane. and planted the following:

There were 4 walnut trees planted equidistantly along the border; in the left corner (looking from the house) is a large white mulberry; the boundary is planted with Photinia. In line with the main door to the house there is a large closely pruned block of Bay about 2.5 m high.  I want to put a feature in front of the Bay either a bench seat although I don’t think it is a natural stopping and sitting point or perhaps some type of sculpture.  At present there is a carved stone head of an Etruscan woman that a good friend carved for us; but she isn’t large enough for this situation.

2010, June

2010, June

2010, June

2010, June

Two of the walnuts have been removed leaving more space for the two remaining; I don’t get a good crop of walnuts from these trees as they aren’t really suited to the ground.  The Back border continues now as far as the plum tree you saw a couple of weeks ago here.

In the first year I planted a Cotinus coggygria purple, Viburnum burwoodii, Calamagrotstis x acutifolia ‘Karl Foerster’, Rosa ‘Old Blush’ and R. ‘Sally Holmes’.  In subsequent years the following were added: An orange Abutilon which for a time set the colour theme of the border to orange; however the Abutilon isn’t 100% hardy and has twice been killed to ground level by cold winters so is not a reliable to be the anchor point of the border.   Agapanthus Ink spot, Epilobium canum ‘Western Hills’, Hemerocallis orange tall (these thrive and are spreading well) Hemerocallis Mauna Loa (also orange with a darker throat also thriving) Rosa ‘Rush’ (doesn’t fit in the border at all well and needs to be moved but I’m not sure where to).  Sisyrinchium striatum is very happy here and seeds around in a pleasing way.

There are lots of Euphorbia myrsinites;  Acanthus mollis grows in the corner under the Mulberry spreading happily but easily removed if the seedlings are spotted early.

IMG_9139April 2009, Lots of Euphorbia myrsinites.

June 2009, Hemerocallis

June 2009, Hemerocallis and the Etruscan head

April 2010

April 2010

There have always been some tulips in this border these are T. Abu hussan, April 2010

There have always been some tulips in this border these are T. Abu hussan, April 2010

The rear of the border is the shadiest in the garden but in summer still receives a reasonable amount of light from about 2pm onwards.  The light being so much stronger in Italy plants requiring full sun in England will grow quite satisfactorily.

2010, June

2010, June

2010, June

2010, June

June, 2011

June, 2011

In August 2011 the bed was entended towards the plum tree with a planting of grasses

In August 2011 the bed was entended towards the plum tree with a planting of grasses

The Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’ have not looked as good as this since.

2 Miscanthus 'Morning Light' are planted slightly off centre, I intend increasing these to four by dividing the exisitng plants

2 Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ are planted slightly off centre, I intend increasing these to four by dividing the exisitng plants

20111201_6317 Blog

I think that gives an idea of how the border looked in the past.  The fact that there are only images for the same months each year rather says it all!

Last autumn the border was widened and made straight, before I had allowed plants to spill over the path giving a relaxed feel.

I planted the following bulbs.

Anemone ‘Sylphide’, Anemone coronaria De Caen ‘The Bride’, Anemone coronaria De Caen ‘Mr Fokker’, Anemone coronaria De Caen Mixture, Ixias Mixture,

The following tulips were also planted: Curly Sue, Cape Cod, Ballerina, Sorbet, Single Late Mixture, and Purple Jacket.  The effect I’m aiming for is strong bright colours but not colour-themed.  I planted in groups and drifts and I’m hoping the result will look random but with strong impact created by the groups.

Her’s what’s flowering today:

Anemone coriana

Anemone coronara

Anemone coronaria

Anemone coriana

Anemone coronaria

Looking towards the Mulberry from the fig tree

Looking towards the Mulberry from the fig tree

Hopefully this will soon be full of spring blooms

Hopefully this will soon be full of spring blooms

Under the Mulberry

Under the Mulberry

Anemone planted autumn 2012

Anemone planted autumn 2012

Some of the Anemones are flowering now but I can already see that I need to add some earlier bulbs such as Iris reticulata, crocus different varieties to increase flowering period, maybe some miniature narcissus and move some Muscari.

I’ll post regularly (once a week during spring) and once a month during the other seasons so you will be able to see if I am successful in improving this border.

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40 thoughts on “The Spring Walk – Back Border

  1. You’ve got plenty going on there. I like your use of grasses. Sally Holmes is lovely, one of my favourites. Is the tree with silver foliage Eleagnus Quicksilver?

    • The silver tree is Eleagnus angustifolia, I took it out because it suckers for this position and actually dies back rather horribly in summer. I have potted up some of the suckers which I’ll plant on the slope where the suckering won’t be an issue, I love the perfume so do want one in the garden somewhere; it is comming back in the border anyway, I may just encourage it to be a low bush (not likely I know).

      • Eleagnus angustifolia is lovely with beautifully fragrant flowers but as you say it suckers dreadfully. If you can find the hybrid: Eleagnus angustifolia ‘Quicksilver’ it is just as lovely; in fact it looks just the same, but it doesn’t sucker.

        • Thanks for the suggestion; I’ll look out for one but it is very difficult finding anything special like hybrids here. The Eleagnus I have was a cutting from a friend. The more likely a plant is to survive here, the harder it is to find.

  2. I think all your Etruscan lady needs is a plinth to sit on and give her visual height. All my carvings in the garden here have brick plinths (made by the undergardener!) to give them added importance. Maybe one could be made out of stones if brick wouldn’t fit in. It is strange that we both have plants that are quite happy in both our gardens, with totally different soil and climate. I’m thinking of Sisyrinchium, which seeds about everywhere, or probably from seeds in the compost when I cut them down, it is almost a weed here! My favourite photo of your border is June 2010, it looks so peaceful, somewhere I could sit and read a book!

    • The Sisyrinchium are almost to weed status here too! It is strange as you say that they like both your and my soil which are very different. Do yours go very black? Mine aren’t too bad which I attribute to the dry conditions.

    • Ah! but only at certain times. I want it to have a very strong spring interest and then be a quite area, that’s why I’m leaving a lot of what is already there and just want to have it exploding with flowers in spring.

  3. This is a wonderful reflection Christina, its good to see so much more of your garden. There is a lovely pleached lime hedge at Kew, which they grow in circle and then another pleached Hornbeam grown traditionally, I love both and would dearly like the space to put one in here. Its a nice decision to have to make.

  4. I will take the weeds Verbena bonariensis and Sisyrinchium over dandelions and bitter cress any day. I actually love the way they pop up all over the place. It seems to knit the whole garden together. I’m looking forward to future posts to see how your back border develops. It looks mighty good to me already, but I know what you mean about spreading the beauty over a longer season.

    • I’m not complaining about the Verbena bonariensis or the Sysyrinchium! Any plant that self-seeds it perfect for me. They are never difficult to edit out if needs be, but as you say they usually plant themselves perfectly and add cohesion to the design.

  5. How lovely to see the different views in the life of this border, Christina – I really look forward to seeing more of it in the next months. I was going to make the same suggestion as Pauline about the statuary – put it on a plinth, whether it is your existing statue or a big pot or whatever

  6. I really love the fresh green of the Euphorbia myrsinites, and the hemerocallis too. Glad you are going to use more Miscanthus – it looks as if it was made for your garden.

    • The Miscanthus needs more water than is availble in my garden but with a little irrigation it usually does well; last year I lost most of the flowers because it was just too dry! The Euphorbia on the other hand loves the heat and thrives in the drought.

  7. I love those anemones – especially the blue one. I’m almost envious of your strong light – some of my plants, like the Tithonia and Asclepias tuberosa, would enjoy it very much.

    • Yes, the light is the thing that is MOST different from our life in England. It means I use stronger coloured flowers; in England I never used red or orange, here I revel in them. My Asclepias tuberosa remained green all this winter; last year one plant died!

  8. it’s interesting seeing the earlier stages of the border Christina, as always in your garden there is so much contrast in colour and texture of the foliage that it is interesting without flowers, the flowers are extras, I like the new anemones, especially the delicate one in the last photo, Frances

  9. I’m also looking forward to seeing how this border changes. I loved the overflowing into the gravel look, was it just too messy to maintain? I do like the more formal straight edge, it seems to connect better with the straight edges of the other beds and brings it all together.
    The anemones are amazing.
    Frank

    • The Crimson Anemones have been flowering since the end of December, the others are only beginning now. Thank you to everyone who has written such positive comments about this part of the garden which I always think is a little uninteresting.

  10. Reblogged this on MontedasOliveiras-Gardening in Portugal and commented:
    The deelopment of the beautiful Spring Garden I reblogged earlier, posted at the suggestion of the author and creator, so you can see the development. It is really inspiring to me to see what beauty can be created in a garden with so little water and spurs me on to learn more and try harder to recreate some of the beauty I see here. Thanks for allowing me to share!

    • I hope it is helpful to others. The front of the border where the springbulbs are planted has no irrigation at all and I don’t think it will recieve any water other than the rain of which there is usually none at all in July and August and sometimes not even in June.

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