Now that our garden openings are done and dusted for this year it not surprising, for those that know me that is, that instead of resting and relaxing my thoughts have already turned to improvements that could be made – nothing major, just tweaking. I’m sure the Golfer would have been happy with a bit of r&r but he felt duty bound to lend a hand on the tweaking project shown above, widening the path that leads past the shrub border. ‘The Poet’s Wife’ (a lovely yellow David Austin rose) has a rather exuberant tendency to be over-familiar with anyone using the path, so a patch of cobbles was lifted from the end nearest the house to be replaced with spare slabs which will be reused to widen the length of the path. Reusing materials means the end result won’t look materially different, but will certainly be more practical. The turf has been removed and the extra strip placed in position but still needs to be laid properly:
Other tweaking is plant related; I have been very aware of the attractive blowsiness of our summer borders with plants spilling over each other, as in the bold border below, but this doesn’t give any new plants the chance to thrive and be seen. Next year I hope to use discrete plant supports early in the season but in the meantime a critical eye will be cast for both underperformers and those at the other end of the spectrum who are pushing out their neighbours.
One real underperformer is crocosmia, and although I thinned and culled clumps last year and at least have a handful of blooms now, they are still little more than clumps of unattractive and unhealthy looking leaves for most of the year. When Googling ‘underperforming crocosmia’ brings up a post from this very blog from October last year as the first search result, then perhaps this should tell me that I really ought just to get rid of them altogether. I can’t even remember if I have ever had healthy looking clumps of my various varieties (Lucifer, Canary Bird and Constance)… Would putting some in pots to pop into the borders just in case they deigned to flower just be prolonging the dilemma?
Not underperforming are these honeysuckle, currently growing enthusiastically on the boundary fence between the woodland edge border and one of the bold borders, but which will be moved to the woodland itself to grow over the wire arbour, and the everlasting pea next to the clematis colonnade which detracts from the clematis and overshadows the geranium growing at their feet and which will therefore be moved to the back of the woodland edge border. Ordinary sweet peas will take their place along both parts of the dividing fence.
We often hear the phrase ‘right plant, right place’, and I suppose I am learning to be a bit more discerning because not only do I want to shift plants around so that they are in ‘the right place’, but also want them to be the ‘right plant’ in the first place, not just something of the right size or colour to fill a gap. Abstaining from buying plants throughout 2016 kickstarted this process and brought me to the point of reflection where I am now, with no intention of losing the informal tapestry of the borders, just making them more meaningful. That’s the general idea, anyway!