The Fence Border


I have mentioned in recent posts that I have been clearing the border along the fence at the top of the bottom steps.  The fence has been stained as dark as possible and my eldest son has run his electrical cable along it which is going to take power to his workshop – the cable just needs pulling taught now.

In this border are two unknown roses that were in situ when we moved in about 9 years ago.  I previously had a Ceanothus planted against the fence.  It dominated this space but produced few flowers and ever winter got cut back by frosts.  I needed to cut it back so the cable could be run behind it but I decided that enough was enough if a plant doesn’t perform as it should the it should find its way to the great compost heap in the sky.  Removing the shrub turned out to be an excellent idea.  I realised how much it over powered you as you came up the steps.  As you can see the border is very narrow here and this is dictated by the placement of the bottom steps and path.

Having removed the shrub and appreciated the space it left I decided that I didn’t want anything large here.  I wanted to show case the roses, one is a deep pink and very pretty and the other orange/yellow and less pretty, but even so I wanted to give them a chance to look their best.  I  have an increasing fascination in combining plants to give interesting textures and I have decided that the borders along the fences will be more focussed towards foliage whilst the interior Big Border and the Cottage Garden Border will have flowers as their focus.

I have cut back my neighbours shrubs which was causing a rain shadow over the border.  The shrubs on the other side of the fence take enough of the mositure so I needed to do everything I could to help the plants I was planting out. As you can see I have planted out a range of plants that should  do well in the conditions.  I have added a dwarf bamboo that has been residing in a pot on the patio  for years and seems to have thrived on neglect so I am hoping it will cope well with the dryish conditions in this border.  I also think the light foliage contrasts well with the dark fence.  I wanted to have a dark and light theme so added a dark-leaved Saxifraga ‘Silver Velvet’, a Japanese Painted Fern, a dark Sedum, a variegated Origanum.  The Saxifraga will be dug up for the winter and the fern will die back so I have added some double Snowdrops, Flora Pleno which hopefully will add a sparkle early in the year.  I am really pleased that all of the plants, bare one, of the plants I have included were residing in pots around the patio so it hasn’t cost me any money and I now have some empty pots to fill.


I now have to continue with this style of planting beyond the Choisya ‘Sundance’ which has had a brutal prune to try to make it grow more compact and less straggly.  My neighbour has been clearing some of the shrubs on his side of the fence so I am hoping that the increased light will encourage the Choisya to grow more evenly.  The border leads up to the workshop and now all the upheaval is finished I can really focus on it.  I have a few ideas for the plants I want to include but I need to do some more research first.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Helen. Sorry I didn’t get chance to say hello on Saturday at HPS. Wasn’t Bob funny!
    Nice touch to stain the fence very dark to show off the plants…wish I had thought of that!
    If the dwarf bamboo doesn’t like the conditions, try Phalaris arundinacea, it grows anywhere!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi David

      I think the talk with Bob is the best bit. I will keep your plant recommendation in mind thanks

  2. Lyn says:

    The dark fence looks very dramatic – a good backdrop to show off your plants. I agree that if a plant isn’t performing, it should go – in theory. I have trouble sometimes actually doing the deed.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Lyn
      Oh once I have decided a plant has to go it goes. I’m only sentimental about one or two plants.

  3. bittster says:

    I thought you were going through a low energy spell and were trying to hold off and relax a bit, looks like even when you’re refueling you still get things done! I like the stencil on your fence, subtle yet still adds some interest.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi bittster
      You are right and I am on strict instructions today to do nothing – well I’m allowed to read, sew and use the laptop. The weird thing is to me planting a border isnt doing that much but it must be as I am feeling quite ill at the moment. The stencil was incredibly challenging, it would not stick on the fence post so I ended up trying to hold it in place and stencil, the effect is OK but not as wow as I was hoping for but apparently I am too critical of myself!!

  4. Cathy says:

    Now THAT’S really satisfying, killing two birds with one stone and planting up a border with plants that have been sitting around! You take care, Helen – hope you feel at least a little better soon

  5. Stephi says:

    I find it so hard to work around a neighbors plantings. Things get bigger than expected shading out plants you thought would have sun, or suddenly your shade plants are in full sun when they rip something out. Always a challenge. I love the dark fence.

  6. Love the dark fence, and am enjoying your explorations of foliage combos. Lovely bamboo.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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