I have mixed feelings about Spring...
Of course I love it – the garden is bursting into life as the sun gets stronger and the days longer. But then comes the challenge of what to do first? Where to start?
As well as keeping up with the ‘essential’ tasks there are so many new projects, new plantings, that I really want to do as well!
This year it is the turn of our front garden. This has been seriously neglected over the last few years and was becoming a bit of an embarrassment!
Whilst I love the birds in our garden, I do hold them fully responsible for the ‘self set’ wild privet, hawthorn, dog rose, bramble and pheasant berry which were rapidly taking over the borders. These are all fine in the rest of our garden, as they are great for the wildlife, but the front garden was intended to be a little more ‘domesticated’.
So a severe thin-out and prune has been necessary, followed by re-edging and shaping the borders. And to make sure the borders stay neatly edged, we have installed a metal edging strip all around so edging will now be a simple task with edging shears.
As the garden was initially planted over ten years ago, many of the shrubs are quite mature, but the borders generally lacked interest. So now is a perfect time to add some colourful herbaceous plants as well as extra ground cover plants to further help with the maintenance.
A couple of the main areas have been designated as ‘student project’ areas. The level 3 students will be preparing, planning and planting these to a set brief – which at least gives me some control!
The first is a hot, sunny, south-facing, border. I am asking for a bright, colourful, ‘tropical’ make-over to this area. The main framework has to be permanent, but seasonal plantings will provide lots of summer colour.
The border already has a few plants in it, including a lovely shaped Arbutus unedo, the Strawberry tree, which offers good glossy-green evergreen foliage, and unusual red fruits. This is one of my favourite small trees.
We will definitely be adding a couple of Cytisus battandieri, the Moroccan or Pineapple Broom. Only introduced into this country in 1922, the evergreen silky grey-green/silver foliage makes a wonderful foil for the upright cones of golden pea-shaped flowers with their strong scent of pineapples!
The other area is an island bed in the lawn. The idea of island beds – i.e. beds intended to be viewed from all sides – really only gained popularity in the mid-2oth century, with the late Alan Bloom taking much of the credit.
Previous to that, gardens had shrub borders or herbaceous borders which were intended to be viewed from the front only, with formal beds used for display of roses or bedding plants. The theme for this bed: ‘Chocolate Orange’. Watch this space!
For more details on all things horticultural, including their qualifications, go to www.rhs.org.uk
- Manea School of Gardening (RHS Approved Centre)
Bookings now being taken for RHS courses commencing September.
Plant sales Saturdays 10am to 4pm.