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Archive for the ‘Sunny Border’ Category


Yesterday after work I went home and started packing up for a weekend in the garden, and here’s mu luggage, photographed after 1 bus and 2 train rides (with the final bus ride to go):

  • 1 fuchsia – purchased in pot
  • 5  dahlias grown from tubers
  • 24 dahlias grown from seed
  • 2 dahlias grown from cuttings
  • 7 tomatoes grown from seed
  • 25 sweet peas grown from seed
  • 2 lavenders – purchased in pots
  • 20 or so gladiolus corms
  • 2 dahlia tubers

-So you know; just your average luggage when going on public transport!

Good thing nobody stared at me during the journey. No sirree, nobody at all… Except, of course, everybody who saw me logging around more plants than you find on your average well-planted balcony!

Today I’m planting out the dahlias in the Sunny Border; the forecast is for fairly mild nights during the next week, so I hope they will survive the change…  The Sunny Border will have no shortage of plants, that much is sure, especially if I sow a second batch so I have some spares to fill in any gaps. (Gardeners are like the royals; we should always have “an heir and a spare”, just in case… What with weather and wildlife doing as they please, we might as well be prepared!)

The fuchsia will go in a pot in the courtyard. I have no idea if it will be hardy enough for the Danish winters, so I might have to bring it inside when the frost begins, and that’s just simpler with a pot. (Plus the courtyard definitely needs some colour, and fuchsia is good at that.)

I’ve got doubts about the tomatoes; last year I grew them in a self-watering Styrofoam box, and that was actually my intention again this year, but I’m beginning to wonder whether to just plunk them in pots in the courtyard instead, or even in one of the vegetable beds (though I probably won’t do that, as space is limited there). We’ll see what happens!

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Yesterday I showed you my bag. Well, here’s what the contents look like unwrapped on the lawn:

The top three are the L.D Braithwaites from the nursery near my parents, and the two bunches below are New Dawn and Rhapsody in Blue from a more mainstream garden centre.

Now, the cheap roses DO look healthy and I’m sure they will be fine, but in the picture above you can see quite clearly on the right bunch that the roots have been cut, whereas the more expensive nursery roses have smaller roots, but they have not been cut.

Today I managed to plant the New Dawns and the L.D. Braithwaites. The New Dawns were a right pain to plant, since they will be growing up trees and obviosuly had to be planted at the foot of these two trees. Now, first of all I had to remove more of the lawn – which seems a recurring theme in my gardening career – and then I had to dig planting holes between the tangled roots of the trees… It was not simple!

For the L.D. Braithwaites the process was simpler, but perhaps no less arduous; they were destined for the Sunny Border, where I’d already stripped off the lawn, but clearly since these were expensive plants they deserved special attention, so I dug a 1½ft deep triangular hole, almost a square meter in area. Essentially this means I dug out the best part of a ton of dense soil and pure clay…

I then mixed the top soil with four barrows of compost, positioned the roses and finally filled the hole. My back was aching, my hands were chafed andI generally felt worn-out, but at least I had the lush, exuberant view of a rose patch to enjoy:

Oh, right; I have a couple of twigs sticking out of the bare soil… But there is promise in these little twigs, and I trust them to make my effort worth-while. Or at least not entirely in vain…

(Also, please note what an un-butch photographer I am… The shadow in the lower right-hand corner is of course me, my phone and a rather daintily curved pinky finger. But it’s dark outside now, so I can’t re-take the shot, and I definitely can’t be bothered to save this post and then publish it tomorrow when I have a non-pinky shot.)

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Right, so last time I went up to the garden my luggage contained three rhododendrons… This time the luggage was lighter, but the number of plants greater!

In case you can’t see it – which is understandable – this is a bag full of roses. Three red L.D. Braithwaite that will go in the Sunny Border, 5 New Dawn that will be planted 2 by each of the trees that carry the hammock in summer and one to be planted wherever I might think of it.

And to top it off there are also 5 Rhapsody in Blue, just because I like the outlandish blueish-purple hue of these roses.

So 13 roses to be planted, and only the site for the L.D. Braithwaites is prepared. That should keep me busy this Saturday and Sunday, I reckon!

Of course the New Dawn roses will be planted in the lawn, so I will do yet more cutting away turf at the foot of the trees that will act as trellises for them. I suspect this is a bit of a suicide mission, but never mind. Less grass, more flowers!

The Rhapsody in Blue is the joker in this game; I have no idea where to put them, but I guess I could stick them in the Ambitious Border in the area where I sowed annuals last year. Anyway, I’ll work that out once the Braithwaites and New Dawns are in the ground.

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So this weekend the Sunny Border was completed!

Flâneur Gardener digging away merrily

The last fiddly bit towards the covered terrace was finally cleared of turf, and a few perennials were rescued from in-between the grass. This was mainly my project, while my husband busied himself around the garden, cutting back the poplars towards one neighbour and the hazels towards another and lopping off a branch of the red-leaved cherry plum tree.

Then we installed that nasty-looking plastic barrier towards the lawn, and it turned out as invisible as I’d hoped for, so that was good, and finally I could start loosening the soil so we could add some compost (the birthday present my husband got from his mother).

Flâneur Husband shovelling compost

We also did a bit of tidying up, moving piles of branches out back and generally trying to make the place a bit more presentable, though it’s still too early in the season to mow the lawn. (And it desperately needs a haircut!)

The result

It’s just a clean slate right now, or almost, but I think it will end up looking great. I put back some perennial sweet peas and a geranium that had been struggling in the tall grass up against the wall, and then there’s a line of stepping stones before the larger part of the border where the roses and larger perennials will go. I put in a few clumps of iris from my mother’s garden, because I think they will look great in front of the roses what will eventually go in beside them, and at the far end I moved some Japanese anemones (also from my mother’s garden).

I do need to be careful not to cram it full of everything that will fit in there, because I suspect some plants may want to grow a little over the summer, but so far it definitely has great potential.

My husband keeps saying he doesn’t want it to look too twee, so his knee-jerk reaction when I talk about planning the planting and coordinating colours is that he’d prefer something much more random, but obviously I’m not letting him have his way here. The colours will be mainly blues, purples and reds, ranging from light to dark hues, and with a bit of luck I’ll be able to have flowers in the border from May/June to the first frost.

I’m really rather excited about this!

Next weekend the plan will be to start tackling the vegetable beds. They’re terribly overgrown, and one of the beds has been used as a depository for dried perennial stalks that need to be cut up and go in the compost bin. And perhaps put in an effort to do some weeding in the Ambitious Border…

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One of the reasons I love having branches in the windows is the way they seem to blur the difference between indoors and outdoors.

They become a continuation of the view inside the apartment, and at the same times help extend the sense of space of the room by repeating the patterns and structures of the trees in the old cemetery across the street.And of course they bring some spring to a view that still bears the hall-mark of winter, except for the patterns of yellow aconites and white snowdrops against the green lawns.

-And in the half light around sunset they become a black lattice-work, silhouetted against the blues, reds and oranges of the setting sun!

In other windows-related news, my lupin seeds have germinated and the sweet peas can’t be far behind. They’re still not visible, but there seems to be a shift in the soil surface, indicating that something is pushing up here and there beneath.

I had an accident last week. I swear, I didn’t mean for it to happen, but… Oops.. The result is now displayed on my dining room table; another pile of seed packets, and I really don’t know where to sow them. Well, I DO, of course, but I didn’t mean to expand the Ambitious Border this season. Now, though, it seems I shall have to, since I will otherwise be short of space for sowing these annuals and perennials.

For now, though, my focus will remain on the Sunny Border. My husband is coming to Denmark on Sunday evening, so I will go up to the garden tomorrow after work and spend Saturday finishing the Sunny Border (should it be renamed the Sunny Semi-Circle, purely for alliterative reasons?) so it will be ready for planting.

I will need to measure the Sunny Border so I can do a more detailed planting plan for it. Right now my ideas are mainly in my head, and that means they constantly change… I do know the honeysuckle and the clematis against the wall will remain in place – and that I’ll do my best to eradicate the hops! – and that my husband’s roses will be planted there when they arrive, but everything else seems to change all the time. Some times I think mixed border with staple perennials that will compliment the roses, some times I think of a raucous drift of annuals, massed in colour blocks.

Drawing up a plan would force me to be more concrete and to commit to the plan I develop. It would also make it easier to start considering textures, heights and seasons of interest. This is going to be a major focal point in the garden, so I think it deserves a less gong-ho approach than I often take to the beds, plopping in plants wherever there’s room for them. I have plenty of plants to fill the Sunny Border, so I have the luxury of being able to choose my selection a bit carefully from the different plants available to me.

Thoughts right now:

  • Blue iris might look nice with the red L.D. Braithwaite roses – and would echo the blue-purple of the clematis against the wall
  • Peonies in whites, pinks and purples could give some bloom in early summer, before the roses really get going and take over the show
  • Tulips and other spring bulbs could get a warmer – thus earlier – start here than anywhere else in the garden, and their dying-down foliage would then be masked by the perennials in early summer
  • I need to think of something semi-low for the front of the border. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ could be an option, since it has such a constricted growing pattern and will be fairly easy to weed around
  • This first year I will definitely be bulking up this new border with my attempt at growing dahlias from seed. They have the advantage of being plants that almost invite a gardener to move them around the garden from year to year, since they’re lifted every autumn. Later on they might be clustered around the garden in various beds.
  • I have a lovely purple asters that would give add some interest in the very late autumn, right up to the first frost – and even a bit after that.
  • And now I’m running out of space, aren’t I? See, this is why I need to draw a plan, since otherwise I will inevitable plan to have 80,000,000 plants per square meter, and that’s probably not realistic…

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Feeling Lazy


It seems like I haven’t done a thing all weekend. Well, of course not QUITE, but you know how one can get in a self-deprecating mood from time to time. When I look at that picture it really doesn’t seem like much of a result.

Still, the border IS larger than it appears in the picture, and though I didn’t get around to digging in the compost and create a plantable area, at least I can be glad I changed my plan and enlarged the area of the border. I suspect it might actually need to be even bigger, but I just won’t have time for that next weekend and I also think it’s probably important that I finish it in this size, dig in the compost and gain a sense of achievement from it. Then I can always do a second spurt of digging in April.

I’ve discovered that the narrow border in front of the covered terrace actually wraps around it, so about 4 inches below the lawn there is an edging of concrete paving stones. It makes it more fiddly to dig near the wall, but on the other hand they make a nice marker for how far in towards the terrace I want to dig deep; the last thing I’d want would be to unsettle the paving of the terrace, and this old edging gives me a nice guideline.

(The clematis is planted just inside the edging, by sheer luck, and it will be preserved. I decided to sacrifice a perennial sweet pea, though, as it was just impossible to disentangle it from the weedy grass around it. Also, it wasn’t very scented, so I will sow some annual sweet peas instead with a headier scent.)

Most of the turf was “recycled” and used to beef up the embankment towards the stream at the back. (And also, on a more cosmetic level, covering up the piles of old twigs and branches that were lying there as well as some of the lumps of pure clay that were dug up when we had the drainage installed. I will fill in the gaps between the turf “blocks”, and that should make it look a bit tidier. )

This one is a bit of a cheat, since I bought this on Thursday. A blue anemone that was just too pretty to resist. I planted it out in the hedgerow, which should pretty much replicate the natural environment it’s suited for; light in spring, then heavy shade once the leaves appear on the trees.

This one looks rather autumnal, yet gloriously so, I think. It’s a mahogany that had made it’s way out into the forest, and as it is not a native plant here I pulled it up and stuck it in a plastic container in the Courtyard. If you look carefully at the centre of the leaves you can see the yellow flower buds have made an appearance, and I think they will look spectacular against the dark foliage.

In time it might end up as a feature plant in the shady (and also not created yet) Fern Patch – or perhaps as undergrowth under the trees towards the road.

Right in the centre of this picture there is a small, red tip making its way out of the soil… The peonies are shooting, and it will be exciting to see if we get any flowers this year. (Though odds are we will have to wait another year, yet you never know…)

And that’s it for now. I’m going up there again Friday evening and hope to finish the Sunny Border in some form before I have to head back to town Saturday night for a birthday party.

(And typing up this entry made me feel like – perhaps – I have managed to get SOME work done over the weekend.)

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Oops…


Isn’t it always the way it goes; you start a project and suddenly you can just see that your scope is too narrow.

I’m afraid I might have to admit that I’ve under-dimensioned the lay-out of the new Sunny Border; now that I’ve dug half of the planned area free of turf it seems quite clear that this won’t make the sort of impact I want it to, regardless of how lush and colourful the plants decide to grow.

I might have to double the radius of the semicircle, and this will of course quadruple the area that needs to be cleared. (A = π x r2 for a circle if I remember correctly – when I was a kid we used to always ask our maths teacher “but what will we ever USE this for?”, and I guess he should have just told me that when I started a garden it would be quite handy to know basic geometry… I also use the Pythagorean number sets quite often – a triangle with the lengths 5-4-3 will give you a straight angle since a2=b2+c2.)

Still, I’m making headway, and my back is actually less sore now than it was after I’d dug out the first square meter. My body is getting accustomed to the work, it seems.

I still need to work out how I’m going to dig out the turf around the young clematis. I suspect I might resort to just scraping off the grass and the top roots, lay down a thick layer of cardboard around the plant and then mulch that over with compost so it doesn’t show. It won’t remove all the roots but it should at least limit the amount of grass that manages to get through to the surface.

Plastic would probably be more efficient, but I think I’ve made enough concessions by deciding on a vertical 8-inch corrugated plastic barrier between the border and the lawn. The cardboard will decompose naturally and actually add something positive to the soil, whereas a sheet of plastic around the clematis would just be an atrocity that will disintegrate but not decompose, leaving me with small bits of plastic in the soil for years to come. (At least the plastic barrier towards the lawn has an expected durability of 5 years, possibly more, given that it will be completely covered on both sides, and when it does start to disintegrate the border should be established enough that I can maintain the edge by cutting it with a spade every spring.)

Anyway, enough of a break; back to the garden – and the heavy work – I go!

(EDIT: And now it started raining – just a slight drizzle, but enough to turn the soil into mud if I walk around digging. Armchair gardening it is for now!)

 

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