My mind has been working overtime whilst rambling in recent weeks, musing and cogitating, assessing and reviewing, identifying ways to tweak the garden to up the ante before next year’s NGS opening. Some things I can’t plan for, like the combination above which has to all intents and purposes composed itself – the herbaceous clematis C ‘Henryetta’ has never flowered as well as this before (previously climbing half-heartedly over a paeony which was relocated to the shrub border last year), the grown from seed Teucrium was unceremoniously shoved at the back of this border as there were several seedlings to find spaces for, whilst Phlox ‘Lilac Flame’ has occupied its position for a few years but has only just joined this year’s serendipitous picture. Equally unplanned is the red nasturtium weaving its way along the front of one of the bold borders, possibly self seeded from a previous year, but a ploy I shall deliberately use in all bold borders next year.
Another ploy which is easily taken on board is to sprinkle Allium christophii through all the main borders – they hold their heads high for so long after flowering and continue to make an impact well into autumn and beyond, so this corner where the effect can already be seen will be extended with the purchase of additional bulbs in my imminent Peter Nyssen order.
Photographs of all the borders will show me where these allium can be added, but will also provide a record of the gaps to enable me to plan whether to fill them with annuals or something more permanent. Front of border seems to be where most of the gaps are, especially in the main borders:
More thought is required for underplanting the clematis colonnade, where the geraniums have underperformed – some, like G ‘Dragon Heart’ have done well but are too lanky without the support of adjacent perennials, and others have just failed altogether. The lanky ones will be removed to other borders, perhaps being swapped for tough as old boots varieties that have thrived on partial neglect and will enjoy the drier conditions under the leafy canopy.
A similar issue has arisen in the rose garden, where I have tried lavender and various annuals under the roses with no real success. On a whim earlier this week and with inspiration from our recent visit to Kate and her Barn House Garden I decided to use massed grasses here instead. Stymied by my current plant buying embargo I have temporarily added divisions of my Luzula sylvatica and planted them around the perimeter, potting up divisions of the Pennisetum orientale kindly given by Kate to add to the two main beds in due course. In the short term I have added alchemilla as an alternative.
Not definite yet, though, is a decision on whether to abandon the Magic Carpet roses in the two big urns either side of the bus shelter – these have very definitely underperformed and although they have only had a couple of seasons to show their potential they have had to contend with their position under the ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ roses, which are vigorous at the best of times. Replacing them with summer annuals that can withstand some shade and drier conditions, such as New Guinea impatiens, would provide more reliable colour. Ground cover rose ‘The Fairy’ at their feet fare better, but to add interest, texture and movement I shall add Stipa tenuissima between them, grown from seed or division of plants I already have – or, come 1st January 2017, by purchasing new plants.
This year has seen partial success with planting annuals amidst perennials in the borders for added colour and variety but in many cases they are but mere specks, reminding me that planting in groups will make more impact; there are colour imbalances such as not enough blue in the blue & white border and still a predominance of oranges and yellows in some of the bold borders!
Yes, plenty to think about, plenty of notes to jot down and plenty of opportunities for suggestions from my blogging friends!