Shuffling about in the Borders

Earlier this week I came to the conclusion that the border in front of the tower, while it worked well earlier in the year, was lacking a certain something in late summer.That old passionflower scrabbling around the doorway needs to go, but that’s a project for later in the year I think. It only looks passable for a few short months every year, and positively dreadful from about November to June. So out it will go. But today I was concerned with a lack of colour and particularly a ‘gap’, not really apparent in this pic, below the window.

The nursery was having a Dahlia sale which was a bonus and I picked up these two:

Dahlia ‘Playa Blanca’

Dahlia ‘Dark Angel American Pie’

The former had lots of dead heads and a small amount of mildew, and the latter are much more dwarf than their label suggests, (I suspect growth retardant – grrrr) so I expect next year they’ll be taller. At the moment they look a little odd in their new spot, with the ‘American Pie’ being a little shorter than the Sedum in front but I reckon they’ll fill it out nicely.

I also hauled out a load of Geranium cantabrigiense which had spread rather a lot and planted Phlox ‘Velvet Flame’ where they’ll be sniffable from the path.

And then, because I was aware these plants won’t really be ‘doing their thing’ fully until next season I slotted in some cheap and pretty Platycodon* in a couple of spots like this. My camera has real trouble with the blue of these flowers which are a lot more purplish in real life.

By next year they too should have filled out somewhat (and maybe shrugged off any growth retardant?) and be less squat and blobby. But for now they’re welcome colour and I do like the wierd bulbous forms of the flower buds.

One of the things I like best about planting out is visualising how the new plants will grow and work in the space. They always look a little gawky and awkward at first, but they soon settle in and start looking comfy (or look more and more awkward until they go to the great compost heap in the sky!) and that’s when you really start to see whether it all works (or not.)

*They are just Platycodon according to the labelling – speciesless plants are the new big thing dontcha know? Why not label things properly I ask you? Do they think their general customers will be scared off by a bit of latin? Maybe they are right. Sigh…


19 responses to “Shuffling about in the Borders

  1. You might have some gap now but the building is so stunning itself that really people would not notice. I like the big dark green shrub next to the door and the grey bush by the window (teucrium probably). They provide a very nice structure. Maybe you should play more with that…

    • I put the Teucrium in a couple of years back during the first of my reshuffles of this border and I’m really glad I did – it does help give it some body. The green shrub is one of the many Myrtles we have.

  2. It’s hard to imagine how plants are going to combine or grow sometimes. I’m sure this also applies to professionals sometimes. I don’t know if it’s me but I can’t see your photos. I’m going to try another browser.

  3. I love the American Pie Dahlia and expect it looks great next to the Sedum. Pity the passion flower has to go but I do understand why, they can get very untidy. Will you replace it with another one?

    • It’s mostly that being outdoors it gets really hammered by the winter and only recovers for late summer so it will probably be better if it’s something else. Wisteria would be classic, or a rose but I’ll have a think and maybe find something a little more adventurous.

  4. Passion plants would be so much better if they were more restrained. When their leaves are seen separately against a brick wall, they are lovely – but they do pile up so,

    • The invasive roots annoy me a lot! I’d love one in a conservatory where the roots are kept in check by something solid such as six feet of concrete. I like the form of the flowers, really interesting.

  5. I need inspiration for my boarders round the front that are just bare earth after a mass clear out. Do you think I should look at dahlias? I’ve got it in my head there is a certain set of conditions they need to flower year after year :S

    • They’re borderline tender. They got through last winter at the towers at the base of a south facing brick wall with a thick blanket of compost but I wouldn’t want to bet on them returning year after year if they’re not in such a warm and sheltered spot. They’re also pretty big unless you get the dwarf types – the established ones we have are 4-5ft tall. On the other hand, if you pick some up cheaply in the sale (they often seem to be cheap at this time of year) it might be worth giving them a try. They are very pretty…

  6. Yeah, what’s up with those general plant labels? I’ve noticed that and it is a bit annoying.

  7. It appears you’re having great fun “shuffling about in the borders”. Isn’t that the best of the gardening world… it’s like re-arranging the furniture. Love this post!

  8. Wow – just discovered your blog. Fascinating. And also like the pic of Dahlia ‘Dark Angel American Pie’. It has a certain kind of ice-cream like beauty!

    Come and visit us when you have a moment.

  9. I do a lot of visualizing as well and some drawing…to see how things will look. I do change things around a lot, but that is what gardening is all about. Your dahlias are such beauties. They will add a lot to your garden.

  10. Hi, I’ve just discovered you because you’ve very kindly linked to Weeding the Web – many thanks. I’m fascinated by your references to growth retardant, as we put in a balloon flower earlier this year that was just the same size as yours. What exactly is growth retardant and how long lasting is the effect?

    • I’m glad you found me 🙂

      I don’t know where I picked up the notion that plants are often sprayed with growth retardant for sale in garden centres but it certainly seems to be the case that plants you buy as compact shrubby little things are much taller and leggier next year in a way that seems to be an actual change of habit, rather than just an extra year’s growth. So I may be unnecessarily slandering the horticultural retail market… but I have my suspicions and a quick googling rather supports those suspicions I’m afraid.

  11. Pingback: Bye bye 2011 | The Sproutling Writes

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