Today I want to explain about how and why I designed my south borders the way they are. This month it is 3 years ago that I created these borders. The pictures you see, are from the first, second and now third year of this part of Bliss. Enjoy!
Last year, when you entered my garden, this was the sight that greeted you. A path in the middle, flanked by two borders on each side. The path leads to the garden cottage where we store, among other things, our bikes and lots of garden equipment.
This part of the garden is at its narrowest only about 4 and a half meters wide. There needed to be a path, leading from the garden cottage to the garden gate. The path had to be wide enough to accommodate one person with a bike or a wheelbarrow. Many gardeners make the paths in their gardens too narrow. Think about where you need a path and what you will be using it for. Also think about what will be there alongside the path. If you put borders next to the path, make your path wider than you think it should be, because many plants have a tendency to do this.
That's right, they flop over part of the path, leaving less space for you and your equipment to pass along comfortably. Usually a path has to be at least 70 centimeters wide, but I made mine 120cm wide. I used grey concrete slabs (60 x 40 cm) and ochre yellow gravel. So, even when my plants flop all over the place, there is still enough room to use the path and not damage the plants.
When you enter my garden through the garden gate you have the conservatory on the right and the conifer hedge on the left. Both were already there when we bought the house and the hedge was very high, close to 3 meters. We cut the hedge back a bit so that it's now about 2.2 meters high, the same height as the garden fence.
There used to be only grass on this side of the house and a diseased plum tree. The plum tree was removed as it was both ill and blocking the access to the garden. The existing fence was also removed as it was about to fall down and was replaced by a new one, made of hardwood (from sustainable forests) with trellis on top.
The windows of the conservatory have to be cleaned regularly so a path was made behind the right hand border as you can see here. Behind the left hand border there's also a path so that the hedge can be trimmed without us trampling all over the plants in the border.
So there you have it, 3 paths were needed here, 1 wide one (1.2 meters) in the middle and 2 narrow ones (0.6 meters) at the sides. But enough of paths, let's talk about the fun part; the borders themselves.
The right border is wrapped around the conservatory so it had to look good from all sides. The left border is in front of a humongous hedge and it's not a very deep border, only 1.2 meters, the one in front of the conservatory is even less deep, only 1 meter. I needed something to give height to these borders or else they would be dwarfed by the hedge and the conservatory. So this is what I did, I bought some standard roses and some obelisks to give instant height. I also bought a few plants that would grow about 2 meters high in a few years time.
As you can see here, the obelisks and standard roses add instant height, visually linking the conservatory and hedge to the borders. The 2 pictures below show you how my borders looked the first year. I put the plants in, in early May and these pictures were taken a few months later, in September. Not bad, eh?
Note that we had grass then instead of gravel. Of course, a garden has to look good all year round so I used box for structure and to add year round interest to the borders.
See? It even looks good in the middle of winter when nothing is in flower.
Because of the high hedge, the left border has only a few hours of sunshine each day, even though it's south facing. The border by the conservatory gets a lot of sunshine and Mediterranean plants like lavender and rosemary do very well there.
Of course I wanted to enjoy my lovely borders up close and personal so I put a little seating area nearby. Like the left border, it's in the shade for a big part of the day, making it very suitable for sitting outside on hot summer days.
This is the view from the garden bench in front of the garden cottage. On the right you see the flowers in the wheelbarrow and on the left the miraculous pear tree.
And this picture I took last year in April, standing next to the garden cottage. The path in the middle echoes the contours of the conservatory. Around the pear tree I made a circle of grey gravel planted up with lady's mantle.
I used ochre yellow for the most part to add to the Mediterranean feel of this area of the garden and because it compliments the mostly magenta,purple, lilac and pink flowers in both borders.
So there you have it, simply two borders divided by a path in the middle, a classic Bliss garden design 101. What could be easier?
Have a lovely weekend!
It is to be noted that when any part of this blog appears dull, there is a design in it. Paraphrasing the Tatler, 38.