Despite, it being Christmas, it’s been busy on the garden front…after musing over the options for the new border I have decided to be bold. Which meant the three spruce tree stumps had to go. This involved getting the stumps ground out which took two attempts to achieve. The first visit started promisingly enough until both the stump man and I realised that although the force was strong in him, he could not make his grinder levitate from his trailer up on to the bank…he returned the next day, equipped with ramps and lo the stumps disappeared.
The removal of the stumps made a huge difference to the area and it was immediately clear that the roots and quality of the soil were going to be more of a problem than I first thought. So….back on the phone and email and enter stage left came the men from Anemone Landscapes with a digger, a skip and two pallet loads manure. Given the unseasonable temperatures we’re experiencing, this has meant the driveway has been filled with the pungent aroma of warm manure…delightful as you can imagine.
The guys spent a day digging up and carefully removing any plants that could be saved and recycled elsewhere in the garden, removing all the roots and then digging in the pallets of manure. Which meant that we’ve gone from this…
to this….a blank canvas!
The bank faces south west, is shaded at times by the house, but it’s pretty warm up there and has a beautiful Forest of Dean stone wall to reflect the heat. So now comes the fun bit….what to do with with it? The area to plant is roughly 15m long and at it’s widest point 5.40m tapering to 3.80m at the tree end (left) and 2.40m at the closest end (right) which, as a couple of friends have pointed out, is bigger than their gardens.
However, unlike most gardens, this isn’t an area you will be walking on or through, this bed will be primarily viewed when you are standing on the drive and looking up and into the bed. It’s also the first bed you see when you arrive at the house, it will set the tone for the rest of the garden, and it’s not until you walk around the side of the house that you see the main garden with it’s sweeping lawns, herbaceous borders and mature trees.
What do I want the bed to do? I’ve worked out that there are two objectives, primarily it’s the main garden area I see from my kitchen, where I spend a large amount of time, so it has to look good all year round but secondly, it has to give anyone viewing the garden, when we open as part of the National Gardens Scheme, a taster of what’s to come, when they walk around the corner. Whilst it could be “exciting” or “challenging” to design something in a completely different planting style, my garden is where I relax and I want the new bed to complement the main garden and house, not to jar my senses.
What does that mean in reality? Although the layout of the garden is quite formal the planting isn’t, my style is a definitely not minimalist…..its more, how one would say, exuberant or perhaps ‘more is more’. I like plants, I like colour and scent, I like year round interest and I like having bees and insects in the garden so the planting is going to have to tick all of those boxes….no pressure then!
I’ve now armed myself with all of my gardening books, Pinterest ideas and images and a large piece of graph paper with an outline of the bed to be planted…and that’s how it’s stayed for the past few days as I try and get over planter’s block (plug?). It’s helped talking over concepts with friends, who have helped enormously in identifying what I don’t want ie prairie style…I like this style but not in my back garden….minimalist green, again, it has it’s place, but won’t fit in my garden, hot border…possibly, but red leaved shrubs in winter? Not possible, unless someone knows different. So, what do I want? Inspiration comes from all sources and I decided to stop shilly shallying around and that a good place to start would be to look at my own flower, garden and macro photographs and identify which ones I particularly like. I decided to note down all my favourites and their colours. It quickly became apparent that I love purple and zingy green, all shades of blue, vibrant pinks and whites to accent. At last, a starting point!
I then went through some books to get more ideas, particular favourite books include
- The Bold and Brilliant Garden by Sarah Raven
- Succession Planing for Adventurous Gardeners by Christopher Lloyd
- Colour for Adventurous Gardeners by Christopher Lloyd
- 365 Days of Colour in Your Garden by Nick Bailey
In the books, I’ve found a few photos of beds and borders in shades of purple, green, mauve, blue, white and hot pinks which give me the lushness and intensity of a hot border but also a range of soothing, calming colours that I can use for year round colour. One of the books also has a colour wheel, I’ve often wondered who used them and I now I know….me! So, armed with my trusty coloured pencils (I find I have to plan and visualise in colour), my colour wheel(!), plant books and internet I’m off into design mode….see you soon!