End of Month View – February 2016 Hugh’s Border

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Ok so the quick-witted amongst you will have spotted that this isn’t my front garden which I said last month was going to be the focus of the End of Month Meme.  And you are right. I had fully intended to focus on the front garden in the meme this year but having written last month’s post, received lots of inspiring comments and done much pondering I think I have decided to dig up the front lawn and re-design the space.  Now I am sure that would be very interesting to follow on the blog month by month but as I don’t know when I will have the time and/or energy to start the work and as I am pro actively working on reducing unnecessary pressure on myself to compensate for the pressures of my new role at work it seemed silly to me to set myself up to feel like I was failing every month. No doubt when I do get my act together I will be showing you the progress on the front garden but I’m afraid you will have to settle for another year of the main garden this year.

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Having made that decision I was then perplexed about what to focus on this year.  My garden isn’t that big and there certainly isn’t anything new to showcase but I was determined to focus on something I hadn’t focussed on before so I have ended up with the border you can see in the photographs.  This is what has been known as the former bog garden and you can locate it if you look at the garden plan.  When I first started blogging a large portion of this border was a pond put in to the convenient hole left by a huge inherited conifer that we had removed.  It was a foolish place to put a pond as it was under the Prunus and Willow so I spent my life, or so it seemed, fishing leaves out and really putting a pond near the top of a sloping garden is just fundamentally wrong.  Some years back I decided to fill it in and create  bog garden.  To be honest this was a very lazy approach to dealing with the pond liner and not the best idea I had especially given that I become a little over enthusiastic in puncturing holes in the liner and inadvertently improved the drainage so well that the likelihood of a bog garden was remote.  So now it is just a border which is mainly in the shade but with the shed end in the sunshine.  Interestingly, when I took the photographs for this post I was struggling to find a good view, which is why it has rarely featured on the blog, but then I stumbled on the view from the shed (top photo) which I really like.  It’s almost as if I designed the border deliberately to be that shape!

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Like I have said the border has a sunny end, just in front of the bench and when we put the bench and gravel in a few years back we cut into the border to create a bigger gravel area where I could also put some of my pots.  Not a very prepossessing collection I know but these are the remnants of my dabbling in alpines and they need to be sorted and tidied.  My intention when I put the bench in was to try to create an area which would be surrounded in plants in high summer like a hide away.  I haven’t achieved this as I have been just too conservative in this area and I need to throw caution to the wind and go for it.  You will see there are a number of hellebores in this bed.  These are last year’s hellebores acquisitions and I was looking for a new location, rather than group all my hellebores in one area.  The only trouble with this location is that, just like dahlias, hellebores face towards the sun (well they do in my garden) and consequently when I sit on the bench I am looking at the back of the flowers.  I have decided to move these plants further along the border to the shady end near the grass path  so I can actually see the flowers.  Then I need to start thinking about how to achieve the feel I want here.  I think some big leaved plants would be good….more pondering will now take place.

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This is the view of the shady end from the grass path.  Again I have struggled with this area – in fact I have struggled with all this border.  I am trying to get a more cohesive feeling and move away from the bittiness that predominates so much of my garden;  the downside of having a magpie approach to plants.  In the back of the border there is a paulownia, which I am growing as a tree rather than pollarding, and lots of ferns.  I think I need to start incorporating some hostas in this end and the hellebores will also add interesting foliage when I move them but I feel it needs something maybe a bit more architectural or striking to give it some sort of focus…. maybe the fatsia japonica Variegated that found its way home from today’s HPS meeting would be a good starting point.

As for what I call this border, well the ‘former bog garden’ doesn’t trip off the tongue so I am think maybe I will call it Hugh’s border as that is the name of my willow owl.

If you would like to join in with the end of month view meme you are very welcome to.  There are no rules but I do ask that you link to this post or blog from your post and if you leave a link to your post in the comment box below then we can all find each other.

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23 Comments Add yours

  1. It seems very sensible to wait until you have the energy – and the plan – before writing about the front garden. You might even find the wanderings in the main garden help you to plan…

  2. starr white says:

    Dear Helen, your garden is so beautiful, and I love seeing everything you do in it. and I think you are much too hard on yourself. I have a wild area that I have decided to turn into a garden, and I am greatly admiring how tidy and organized yours looks. Also, I am astonished at how much farther along your spring appears to be than ours! love your photos and your thoughts on your gardening. thanks so much for sharing.
    ps could you recommend any good books with garden settings? Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Armin is my favorite book centered around gardening, but I have been unable to locate another anything like it and would much appreciate any suggested reading 🙂

  3. Christina says:

    Dear Helen, the new bed that you have chosen for your End of Month meme looks already so lovely it is hard for me to imagine that it can be improved. But I am sure that you will find a way ;-)!
    Here is my contribution to this month meme.

    http://www.organicgardendreams.com/2016/02/end-of-month-view-february-front-yard.html

    Warm regards,
    Christina

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Christina
      Thank you, the border looks lovely now but I think this is its peak and it isn’t as wow as it could be for its peak. The rest of the year is a bit drab! Thanks for joining in again with the meme

  4. Anca Tîrcă says:

    I love these February views of your garden and those little spots of colour scattered all over the place!
    This is my contribution: http://timpingradina.blogspot.ro/2016/02/end-of-month-view-february-2016.html

  5. to me the border looks quite good now but I understand why you want the changes, I like Hugh’s garden and the willow owl, your front garden plans sound interesting I look forward to updates,
    totally understand the no more pressure, I burst into tears over a course I’m taking last week and have decided not to worry over it, if I finish good, if not it’s better to keep my health,

    I have done a post this month, I didn’t last month as nothing had changed but this month there is a bit of progress, Helen thanks for hosting, Frances
    https://islandthreads.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/end-of-month-view-february-3/

  6. Your post is a joy to read, and I draw comfort from the fact that you are clearly open to discussing ideas and possible designs, acknowledging what has worked and what hasn’t, thinking through different ways to handle space, beds, sun and shade issues etc. Since I started gardening in Egypt, I have had so many failures, re-thinks, frustrated plans, and muddle over corners that I don’t know what to do with, I have sometimes felt at a bit of a loss. I think Hugh’s border looks very attractive – and I love what look like different levels in your garden, something I don’t have.

  7. Jim Stephens says:

    Your garden’s looking great I must say, much more spring like than mine. My snowdrops are finished, my Hellebores are skanky. Your set of photos this month shows it all off very well, with less foliage you get a better idea of the overall layout. I think the bittiness will subside as some of your plants grow larger, especially the shrubs. In a more mature garden you have to be ruthless to keep the thugs from dominating and losing you your variety.
    My EOM post is https://gardenruminations.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/end-of-month-view-february-2016/

  8. luise kehr says:

    Dear Helen,

    I so look forward to reading your blog, you have so many talents and such impeccable taste. Thank you for sharing your very personal views, it gives me the feeling we’re actually sharing a cup of tea, although I’m more a coffee drinker. After all I live in Austria.
    Have you thought of rhododendrons for your shady border; ever since reading Rebecca I associate England with rhododendrons, which I find stunning. Unfortunately they don’t grow well here. I could imagine the hosta would complement them, or the other way around, and maybe some astilbe and azaleas?
    I’m very much looking forward to the development of your garden and it’s lovely to see how much is already blooming, Here it’s only the snowdrops and I just dug up some more hepatica in the woods and planted them in yet another area of the garden, in the hope they’ll want to stay this time.
    Greetings from
    Luise in Austria

  9. jenhumm116 says:

    Hi Helen, you’re definitely right to take time to plot and plan – it’s one of the joys of gardening, and som much warmer and less back breaking. And of course there’s plenty to see in your back garden for us to enjoy, so no pressure!
    Here my EoMV, thanks for hosting
    https://duverdiary.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/end-of-month-view-february-2016/

  10. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Your garden looking nice and springy. I dare say you always be moving plants around! I have a friend that gives her plants a ride in the wheelbarrow even in horrendous weather!

  11. Helene says:

    I think you are much too hard on yourself too, I keep showing my garden in stages of work-in-progress – when is a garden ever finished anyway? However I can fully understand that you don’t want any pressure to finish to a certain time, it will be done when it’s done – that’s what I answer everyone who asks me when my new garden will be done 🙂
    I like the view from your shed, and it is nice to see your garden from a new angle, I didn’t realise how steep your garden was at the back.

    Here is my EOMV post for February:
    http://graphicality-uk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/eomv-february-2016.html

  12. Alison says:

    Hi Helen – I love the willow owl, he is a good guardian for the border.

    My EoMR is here http://www.blackberrygarden.co.uk/2016/02/end-of-month-review-february-2016.html?m=0

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi ALison

      I love Hugh too, my friend Victoria Westaway is a willow sculptress. She has done sculptures for gardens at Chelsea and will be doing some at Hampton Court this year. Very talented and great fun.

  13. Brian Skeys says:

    Hugh’s border looks very colourful not just from the bulbs and hellebores lots of different leaf shape and colour.

  14. Caro says:

    Hi Helen, My first thoughts on seeing your photos were what a lovely garden you have. I especially like the pink hellebores next to the daffodils and the ferns dotted around. I have the same problem with my ‘spring’ border – full of daffs, muscari, heuchera, polemoniums and foxgloves but it looks dreadful by mid summer. Successional planting is a skill I have yet to master, particularly with shade. I’ll be watching with interest to see how this border progresses, it’s always good to see how other gardeners plan. My blog post is really only relevant at the end when I introduce the closed garden space that I’ve taken on – my major project for this year as well as my food and flowers garden!
    http://urbanvegpatch.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/yellow-flowers-in-grey-world.html

  15. AnnetteM says:

    Your garden looks lovely with all the clumps of spring flowers. This is such a good meme, taking a photo of one area every month really helps us focus on where the gaps are at each time of the year. Also people are very helpful with their comments.
    Here is my view this month – it is still very wintery here I’m afraid.
    https://myaberdeengarden.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/end-of-month-view-february/

  16. Pauline says:

    I like this view of your garden, Hugh’s border is looking very good indeed with lots of colour shape and texture. New planting takes time to all come together, gardening certainly teaches us patience!

  17. Cathy says:

    Definitely should be called Hugh’s border, as he will be keeping a very watchful eye on it! So many pretty spring blooms in your garden just now Helen. My EOMV is now posted at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/end-of-month-view-on-the-cusp-of-spring/

  18. Angie says:

    We are all often guilty of being too critical of our own space. As has been said above the border already looks good but as we are not the ones living with it, it is easy for us to say.
    I look forward to seeing how you develop this spot – one of the beds I am focusing on this year is by the sounds of things in a similar situation. Some shade and some sun. To me sometime sun lovers don’t quite look so good with shade lovers and it’s a case of trying to get the right balance. Good luck with the front garden too. You made the right choice of not setting yourself up to fail. What a wise lady you are Helen.
    Here’s my link for this month.
    http://mygardenblogs.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/end-of-month-view-february-2016.html

  19. Julieanne says:

    Looks like an interesting border to focus on without giving yourself too much added pressure. I do like Hugh.

  20. Like everyone else I think your border looks great! I wish I had your attitude of not setting yourself up to fail. I am very prone to taking on a huge project at the worst possible time and then beating myself up for not achieving my aims. We shall look forward to the front garden another time. Meanwhile, here is my EOMV: https://edinburghgardendiary.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/end-of-month-view-february-2016/ in which I bemoan my paucity of snowdrops, and so I congratulate you enviously on your most magnificent bank of snowdrops! They really do look so wonderful. Like you, I also feel that my garden is bitty due to magpie tendencies, and have made a resolution, to buy plants in groups of threes or fives in future, so that the clumps have more conviction (and less money to spend on other plants, which is part of the problem).

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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