Building a herbaceous border. Pt. 2

Sooooo, in a bid to make this patch of ground look remotely like an actual garden, the rose arch becomes the next step in construction. The idea being that it will help develop some semblance of design and order to the garden, and it will also dictate how wide the brick path will eventually be, and where we need to begin construction of the next border.

So, the arch went up. After this, it was easy enough to plan out the left-hand border and dig out the turf (well, I say easy…).  The result of this looks slightly less uninspiring than the previous image. You can see how much of a difference a structure makes to a garden; it brings areas together and helps bring a sense of design into the garden.

April 2014
View of the first section of garden under construction.

The turf that remains as part of the full garden design is being treated for weeds and moss, and fed regularly. As a result, it has greened up nicely. It is a far cry from the head-high meadow grass I found when I moved in.

As we dug the left-hand border out, and laid down the wooden edging, we realised the soil levels were bizarrely at odds with each other. The right-hand bed – which was stripped of turf, dug out, had two tons of topsoil added, was planted up, and then had a ton of bark chips added as weed control, all last year – was in some places a foot higher than the soil level in the left-hand border. Once the wooden edging was down, this became hilariously clear. The solution is simple – more topsoil. Approximately two tons of topsoil! This has to be added before plants can go in, obviously. The turf was trimmed, so all that remains of grass in this section is a pathway. This pathway will eventually become a reclaimed brick path with a cottage garden feel.

April 2014
View of the first section of garden under construction.

To pass the time, and ease frustration on my part, I have spent some time planning where all of the plants will go in this border. Not as much of an easy task, partly because I seem to have a penchant for dark-coloured foliage and now have a collection of plants with dark red and black foliage, which needs to be spaced well and combined well to avoid a crazy mass of black and red shrubs in the border. This took much longer than expected, and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right (I usually end up transplanting plants around after the event, as I re-think where something might look much better once mature). To date, the plants have been set out in a semi-permanent way, and we now await the delivery of four tons of topsoil (half will go to fill the vegetable raised beds).

Here is the plant list for the left-hand border.

  • Philadelphus aureus
  • Acer palmatum ‘Oshio Beni’
  • Crocosmia ‘Walberton Yellow’
  • Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’
  • Solidago ‘Goldenmosa’ (Golden Rod)
  • Physocarpus opulifolias ‘Dart’s Gold’
  • Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’
  • Heuchera ‘Marmalade’
  • Physocarpus ‘Little Devil’
  • Cytisus
  • Heuchera ‘Rio’
  • Knifophia ‘Tetbury Torch’
  • Cosmos ‘Chocamoca’
  • Physocarpus opfulifolius ‘Lady in Red’
  • Epatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’
  • Cotinus Royal Purple’
  • Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe’
  • Heuchera ‘Midnight Bayou’
  • Geranim pratense ‘Midnight Reiter’
  • Diantus sunflor ‘Paseo’
  • Polyanthus ‘Fire Dragon’
  • Polyanthus ‘Stella Champagne’
  • Carex ‘Everest’
  • Hydrangea mops lacecap
  • Iris ‘Langport Wren’
  • Weigela ‘Victoria’
  • Geum ‘Lady Stratheden’
  • Crocosmia ‘Voyager’
  • Ligularia prewalskii
  • Coprosma ‘Pacific Midnight’
  • Viola ‘Honey Bee’
  • Crocosmia x crocosmiflora ‘Emily McKenzie’
  • Echinacea ‘Hot Lava’
  • Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’
  • Paeonia officinalis ‘Rubra Plena’
  • Corylus maxima purpurea
  • Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’
  • Fuchsia ‘Display’
  • Geranium sanguineum ‘Elka’
  • Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’
  • Lewisia
  • Geranium ‘Bertie Crug’

As will hopefully be clear, this side has been designed to introduce gradients of bright colours – from yellows, oranges, reds, blending into pinks. I am still unsure about the pinks (not a ‘pink’ person).

So, on the morning of the topsoil delivery, this is what we started with:

Four tons of topsoil delivered to the door. Literally.

A few hours later, the bed was raised to the same level as the right-hand bed. Corrr, look at that lovely soil. Gorgeous stuff.

Gorgeously dark, loamy topsoil.

It took a few more hours to get all of the plants put into the ground. My back wasn’t amused. Here we have the completed herbaceous border. Yes, again it looks quite bare and relatively uninspiring, but give it time. Spaces between plants is a good thing; plants needs space to spread and merge into their neighbours. Anyway, tada!

Left-Hand Border
Plants are in.

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