This time last year I had one of my weekends of enthusiastic activity and lifted the turf (well moss) for a new border in the garden (see below).  Then the weather changed and it was hot and dry for months making it almost impossible to dig the new border.  I cheated terribly and covered the soil with a thick layer of green waste  and planted into this.  There were only a couple of shrubs, including the witch hazel you can see above, where I had to hack into the baked clay.  Most of the planting wasn’t actually done until late May/June and then I spent months worrying that the plants weren’t getting a very good start.  I needn’t have worried as the plants seem to have thrived.  The witch hazel flowered beautifully back in February which was a real bonus as I had read somewhere that they had taken a while to flower.

The reason for putting the border in was to indulge my love of woodland plants and also because the so called lawn was really nothing more than moss.  The border is quite shaded by the neighbours trees and the tree roots can be troublesome.  However because the clay soil gets so wet any way it doesn’t become dry.  I was also trying to add some interest to the garden.  I’m ashamed to say that I still haven’t rearranged the plants that were along the fence before I started.  I was going to do it in Autumn but life etc got in the way and then I couldn’t remember what bulbs etc were where.  Anyway, I am now determined to address this as the fence is far too visible and I want to add more substance at the back.

With this in mind I am toying with moving the rhododendron which is currently tucked in under the acer and bamboo.  Of course when these plants were planted they were small and have thrived over the last 5 years.  However, this year the rhododendron isn’t too happy and has few flower buds which is a pity as this is a variety which if memory served me right is called ‘Happy’ and has wonderful magenta flowers which pick up on the candelabra primulas along the steps.  I suspect that this due to the dryness last year and particularly over the winter and also the competition from the bamboo and acer.  I am thinking of moving the rhododendron to the other end of the border to add some substance there but I am hesitating as the ground is hard to dig due to fibrous tree roots and I’m not sure how big a hole I will have to dig.  I will ponder further.

I have been pleased with the spring bulbs I planted in the border and am going to add to them in the Autumn.  The Narcissus  Minnow and Hawera have been fab and Hawera is only now going over.  I planted two types of erythroniums: Pagoda and albidum.  Pagoda seems to be the more robust of the two, which may also explain why it is more widely available and cheaper to buy.  The erythronium albidum appeared and flowered albeit with small flowers and weak stems.  I will add some more Pagoda in the Autumn, I’m thinking of drifting them around the perennials.

There are also quite a few anemones and primulas in the border as well as a good spread of Solomons Seal.  I think I shall add some disporum this year to give the border some height during the summer.

So there is the woodland border one year old – I have to say I am surprised at how well it is developing.