How to plan your garden this year
At last, the garden is green rather than brown. The time to plan your garden is almost over.
Certainly it’s time for me to stop planning and start doing. It’s time for a walk-round, with a few gardening friends, to see what’s working and what I ought to do. It’s all very well dreaming and flicking through plant catalogues.
I have been talking about a white border for a long time. These scillas, given to me by a friend, have now convinced me that this border would look good with more white planting.
This is one end of a long border at the back of the garden. It can be seen from the house. White shows up best – darker or more subtle colours tend to get lost in the brickwork. Garden consultant Matt Jackson suggests that I limit the number of plants I use, but use them in large swathes or blocks.
Posy Gentles, also a garden consultant, agrees: ‘If you start with lots of white tulips, and go onto white foxgloves, then the next layer could be white cosmos or verbascum, then end up with white Japanese anemones.
Mary, a friend staying this weekend, suggested Achillea ptarmica, a white yarrow. Posy was horrified because it gets everywhere.
Mary thought that was what was so good about it – ‘you can always dig it up.’
I do have Japanese anemones in this bed, but they are the pink ones. I am asking the gardening world’s permission to be extravagant and dig the pink ones out and put a whole load of white in. It feels like a waste, but I don’t find the pink ones as attractive.
Australian gardening expert Stephen Ryan says that roses are ‘beautiful flowers but bloody awful plants.’ (see my post on gardening tips from Australia) He’s not alone in this belief – because roses are twiggy and shapeless for most of the year and their leaves so easily get diseased.
But at this time of the year emerging rose foliage really earns its place in the garden. It’s beautiful against the sharp greens of spring. More roses can go on the shopping list.
Tip: if you’re thinking of planting a knot like this, don’t buy the smallest size of plant. I bought the smallest size in multi-packs and didn’t plant them closely enough together, which is why it’s taken so long to come good.
Posy says she has ‘gone off’ Queen of Night because it gets everywhere. Personally, I am very happy that it’s so prolific and determined, as it makes a wonderful foil for fresh green spring foliage.
This isn’t the most elegant picture of my smyrmium. I should have planted more bulbs in this clump. Now is a good time to buy it – probably from nurseries as I haven’t seen it in garden centres. There are other vigorous self-seeders in my post on (Saving Time and Money in the Middlesized Garden.)
As you’ll have seen on my post 9 Things to Do Differently in the Garden This Year, wasabi is hard to find, expensive and likes to grow in the shade. So it could be the perfect show-off veg for a dark corner…
The wasabi is looking a bit nibbled, so is a good reminder for me to do an anti-slug and snail exercise this weekend. Take a handful of Sluggo and toss it fairly widely across the bed. It lasts much longer that way and seems to do the trick – you don’t need to create little piles of slug pellets in barriers around each plant. Sluggo is accredited for organic gardeners.
I included this photo because I’m amazed at how long it’s taken my chillies and coriander to germinate. I had almost given up on it. Sowing so late means I’ll also have to buy some chilli plants as these won’t start harvesting till late August.
Weeding by hand doesn’t involve weedkillers and lasts longer. Just do it in 15 minute stints, preferably every day. Now that the days are longer, there’s more time. Not looking forward to it, though, even with a garden kneeler.
And finally – I am particularly pleased with one area of the garden. We planned the whole garden so that the main colour was in one big bed that could be seen from the kitchen window. In April the colour comes from the bulbs at the furthest end from the window, but they still make quite an impact.
And there’s a closer view on video:
I’m aware that if I don’t act on these notes soon, then summer will be here before we know it. Yet another year will go by when the ‘white border’ hasn’t been converted from ‘vision’ to ‘reality’. So, unless you’re one of those super-organised gardeners who really did order all your plants during the winter – it’s getting close to your last chance to make a list of what you really want to do in the garden this summer.
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