In April 2012, I added two new beds at the Priory.
I cut the turf from either side of the path-to-nowhere and planted with a mix of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Verbena bonariensis.
And it was OK but not a resounding success.
Nonetheless, I stuck with it for another year hoping for a big ‘wow’ improvement. Fat chance. Disappointed, I winced a little, shaking my head despondently as I walked past.
At the far end, these beds become standing pools in winter and the nepeta sulked. You can see the plants are smaller towards the box.
This year, I decided to Take Action. As I’ve been keen to experiment with block planting, I ditched the nepeta altogether, smothered the beds in my sweet-smelling, crumbly, chocolatey, sweet-tasting (not really), rub-in-your-face compost and just have verbena. Very simple but I thought it would work. It was cheap too; free actually. Verbena self-seeds wantonly at the Priory and I had far more plants than I could possibly use.
With a little trepidation I sat back, supped Earl Grey, flicked through ‘Hello’ magazine and waited for the results. I was curious. I hadn’t seen beds filled only with VB.
I edged, I weeded and I hoed quite regularly. These beds are home to oxalis, pearlwort and. encroaching from the lawn, opportunistic yarrow and creeping-bleeding-buttercup. I thinned some VB and transplanted more to fill any gaps.
And for once, the gardening gods smiled indulgently and patted me on the head. I think the result is pleasing.
At whatever time of day
it catches and holds the eye.
It shimmers in sunlight and waves gently in the breeze
but doesn’t block.
It is, of course, also hugely popular with bees and butterflies.
But what I do need is a far stronger, larger focal point at the end of the path-to-nowhere.
Small box hedging, paving covered in creeping thyme, a handful of potted succulents and a crumbling bird-path filled with desultory sedum isn’t enough. The path ought to lead the visitor and the eye to something more substantial. It ought to be a path-to-somewhere.