Our gardening venture started with the renovation of the Greenhouse border. The border is situated on the far east side of the garden, within the walled garden. The border is substantial size, approximately 35x4m deep. The conditions are favourable, west facing, good balance of morning shade and sunlight exposure. Main challenges; high potential for wind damage as the wind hurtles up the path and the soil is the heavy, thick, claggy variety. Working it over the years has improved the soil, but muscles will always be required. We started work in 2007 and have since, be it slowly, ascertained that, apart from sheer physical labour, costly plant purchases, bulk propagation, oodles of plant knowledge, composition skill, soil conditioning,... the most valuable ingredient to achieve bulging borders, is unfortunately, patience. Agreed, immensely annoying.
|Greenhouse Border July 2007|
In the past, this border was originally a childhood project of my husband and his sister, working it on their weekends off from school, into a charming herb border. The plan for its rejuvenation was to keep some of the original features of the border, such as the alternating Hidcote and Rosea Lavender hedge and established structural plants such as the Rosemary Miss Jessopp's Upright, Salvia Officinalis, but to add more height, structure and variety to the border. The walls are home to two (presumed) Green Gage plum trees. One of them certainly is, as it has produced fruit, most of the likely Cambridge Gage variety. The other is in the capable hands of my husband, undergoing much needed re-invigoration treatment. A bounty of fruit is surely to follow soon, my wicker basket is at the ready....
Thanks to the magic of digital photography we have a visual progress log, starting from our initial efforts to the current day. Sadly, our enthusiasm clouded the foresight to take photos from a single spot, so the overview does not quite paint the accurate picture, but progress can clearly be seen. Timing wise, the photo's were all taken in July apart from the 2010 photos which were taken in June.
July 2007: Result of initial exploits
The fruit trees are a tad wild, but the border shows much promise, with new numerous new additions, such as; Monarda Croftway Pink, Monarda Schneewittchen, Clary Sage, Cardoon, Verbena Bonariensis, Sedum Spectabile Brilliant, Eupatorium Maculatum Atropurpureum, Eupatorium Chocolate, Blue Echinops, Echinops Sphaerocephalus Artic Glow and for structure Buddleja Davidii. In addition, two new roses adorn the wall; Felicite Perpetue and Sir Cedric Morris. Lessons learned; the Cardoon was fast outgrowing its central position, starting initial doubt as to its suitability. Clary Sage, lovely as it is, is a biennial. We decided that due to the scale of this border and work involved we could not be involved with annuals or biennials. From now on perennials only. Furthermore this border will include only strong, tough plants. Careful staking of Delphiniums for example is not for us, instead height is achieved by plants such as Veronicastrum which have good upright habit and require limited to no support. The ramblers were to be joined by other varieties, so a sturdy wall support structure was required.
July 2008: The discovery of Alliums
Slightly overzealous allium purchasing, but the result is delightful. There is substantial, and continued, risk of brutal bulb impaling in this border, but that is something I have come to terms with. The Cardoon has made it to 2008, growing larger and testing our resolve. It does look lovely though.
|Greenhouse Border July 2008|
July 2009: One border becomes two
To achieve the desired effect, the border is expanded to become a set of parallel borders. The old lavender hedge in new border is proudly replaced, by the result of successful cutting exploits.
Greenhouse Borders July 2009
New plants include; charming Goat's Rue inspired by Jekka's 2009 winning Chelsea Flower Show stand; Valerian officinalis, and much loved Agastaches. The planting is purposely similar in both borders in an attempt to achieve some form of symmetry. Plants are thriving in the new border as the soil is lighter and less claggy than the original border.
Greenhouse Border July 2009
Creative use of rusty plant supports help support the plants and combat the wind. Experimental planting of garlic bulbs in the border has worked, creating wonderfully weird allium type plants piercing through the thicket. Additions of audacious dark pinks, helps lift the overall look of the border by the planting of Allium Sphaerocephalon, Sanguisorba Officinalis and Knautia Macedonia both dwarf and tall varieties.
For those whom noticed,... with a heavy heart, the Cardoon saga ended in 2009 with it's rather brutal but required, expulsion.
June 2010: Starting to look the part
The borders are at last, starting to bulge. The Thalictrums, in particular, are coming into their own. The Eupatoriums, particularly the Chocolate, (recently renamed Ageratina Altissima for some reason), add great structure and colour to the back of the border.
|Greenhouse borders June 2010|
Cirsium Rivulare, for additional punch, planted in both borders. They grow into huge plants, requiring more space than originally planned. Neighbouring plants are being smothered. Additional pink, white and dark pink Astrantias were planted. Astrantias are wonderful. Sturdy yet delicate flowers, very upright so no need for supports and they flowering for the entire season. Maxima, Roma, Major white Giant are lovely varieties but there are many more I have my eye on. One of my favourites in the border, is the Welsh onion which adds great architectural structure.
The Russian Sages are doing well, although just as the Monarda's, they tend to prefer the new border. Lessons learned; Hydrangea Paniculata was pruned back hard in March 2010, so unsurprisingly there are almost no buds/flowers this season. May have been a tad harsh, but it was getting too big. Hopefully 2011 will see it booming with flowers again. Similarly, the Buddleja was cut back hard, but the regrowth was rather leggy and thin. March 2011 pruning will be less harsh. The Valerian has been left to grow too big for too long. Needs splitting almost annually. The Echinops Sphaerocephalus Artic Glow is overgrowing and self seeding all over the place. Still like the plant, though its flowering period is a little short. Just as the blue varieties, it tends to look unsightly mid to bottom. Planting in front of them needs to hide that better.
|Greenhouse borders June 2010|
All hope is on 2011...
|Greenhouse borders February 2011|