New Beds 1, 2 and 3

Recently, I’ve planted up three new beds at the Priory.  None of them are particularly big and one is really only an extension of a larger border.
The only truly new one, and the last one to be planted up, is called the um, er, the er (thinks furiously) Kitchen Bed (it lies directly outside the kitchen door).  It’s triangular in shape with each side being eight or nine feet long.  It was formed by some paths we had laid a few months ago (horrendously expensive reclaimed Victorian pavers) and had been left empty for far too long.  Using a quick, if expensive, remedy it has now been planted up.  I’ve put in a border of box and centre stage, taking a perpetual bow, is an Acer palmatum dissectum.
As a temporary fill-up within the box edging, I’ve planted dozens of Lobelia ‘Crystal Palace’ (buy one get one free – so saved a bit of cash there).  I was going to sit down and plan some permanent planting but tell you what, though I’ve never been into summer bedding, I rather like this upright mat forming lobelia.  Quite smitten with that blue.  I shall think on  …
The second newly planted border is at the top of the car park, up against one of Margaret’s fields.  It used to host a berberis and weeds; nettles and couch grass and all sorts come through the wire fence from the field (I haven’t worked out how to combat that yet).  But late last year, I took out the berberis (and most of the weeds), and planted a dozen or so

of the grass, Miscanthus transmorrisonensis.

They are just beginning to throw out their flower heads.  Just to pad out the grasses until they get a little more established, I’ve also put in eight or so Verbena bonariensis.  I know, I know already.  I use a LOT of this plant.  But … it’s readily available, it’s free (it self seeds brazenly), I’ve got a lot of space to fill and I love it.  I promise you that as the garden gets more established, I will cut back on the VB.  I can do it.  Anytime, I want to.  I don’t NEED it.  Just say no to VB.  No probs.  Anytime I want.  I’ll just quit.  Just not yet ….. but soon*.

Along the rocks at the front I’ve planted some Erigeon karvinskianus (try saying that after a pint of sherry), and behind those Dianthus ‘Queen of Henri.’  I had the latter knocking about from when I worked in an alpine nursery.  They’re as pretty as pretty can be and their scent is knock out.  Probably the best plant scent in the history of the world.  Probably.
There is a youngish elder tree growing in this bed (which I didn’t have the heart – or inclination – to take out) and  I’m growing Clematis ‘Bill Mackenzie’ up it.   I love elder flower and elder berries and I just thought that the whole tree smothered in the nodding yellow flowers of the clematis as well would look amazing.  Or rubbish.  We’ll see next year when ‘Bill’ reaches the top.

April 2011

At one end of the Rock Border, is a bulbous bulge extending out into  the east lawn.  I’ve rather grandly (and pompously) called this the ‘Tropical Bed.’  It isn’t proper, grown up tropical in the way that say, ‘Mark and Gaz’ do tropical.  This is more 1970’s tropical.  1970’s Sunday supplement tropical;  a few dahlias and a brace of cannas.  Did they have cannas in the 70’s?

The colocasia (centre between the cannas) is pretty much indistinguishable from the leaves of the arum lilies on the right. Tsk.

Must have; they had Concorde and space travel.  Anyway a banana (Musa basjoo), some cannas, some dahlias, a colocasia, a ginger lily (Hedychium gardnerianum) that didn’t flower and is only now emerging

(though luckily, I had some helichrysums in the long borders that did flower)

and hey, presto – a tropical border.  Sort of.  Anyway, it’s a start.  It’ll be better and more thought out next year. And I suspect – BIGGER.

A Comma (Polygonia c-album)

* It is difficult not to use Verbena bonariensis in quantity, if only because of the butterflies.

A Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

I rarely walk past without seeing something feeding on (or in this case) near it

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

and that alone makes me happy.

Feed, my beauties, feed.

11 thoughts on “New Beds 1, 2 and 3

  1. I think you could have a lot of fun with that first bed experimenting with different annuals each year to complement the box and acer. Or you could always plant some VB… I LOVE that second bed, the grasses work so well on the wild edge of the garden, and the elder gives great character. BTW, good use of butterfly pawn to justify the VB… I predict a MUCH larger tropical border next year…


  2. Hi Sara, me neither. Bedding, shmedding. But, yeah I do like that lobelia. And I don't care who knows it. I'm sitting here now – waiting for your lobelia trial post. No pressure.

    And I hope your VB is all that you wish for …

    Hi Boys, high praise indeed – which means a lot. Really, thank you. I'm very excited about growing a lot more tropical/tender/exotic stuff and love visiting your blog to see the possibilities.

    I agree about the species cannas …



  3. Great to see your new beds David, love your planting I must say, very, very professional. A proper head gardener's touch!

    The new tropical border looks great, not too brash and bright, just right! Dahlias are making a grand come back, and Cannas never really disappeared, well almost, after the explosion of the canna virus in the UK from late nineties up to most of the noughties. Fortunately with wide spread awareness most infected stocks circulating were gradually destroyed and clean ones are widely available for sale (it was the other way around until recently). Cannas with dark, purple foliage are my favourite, as well as species ones. And you can't go wrong with bananas 🙂


  4. Lovely new borders. I'm not a fan at all of bedding plants, but think the single deep blue of the lobelia looks delicious with the box. Saw some stunning lobelia trials at RHS Wisley in the summer which I must post soon… keep running out of time!

    And VB is not a bad habit to have: there are surely worse! 😉 Grew our first plants from seed this year and they are flowering now, starting to branch out and not look quite so timid. Can't wait till next year when they really get going!



  5. Easy to be anxious, Faisal, though I think I'm getting less so as I grow older. Pleased you like the grasses. I think when mature and filled out, they'll look amazing in a strong breeze.

    Gosh Jane, don't know about having it all! I wish I did but thanks anyway for your kind words.

    Hi Helen, never heard of VB disappearing before – how odd! Thanks for the lobelia seed tip – will bear in mind if we decide to keep the simple blue in-fill. I'd like to – nice and simple and clean. Pleased you like the tropical stuff – I really enjoyed doing it and am trying to work out how to increase the size of the bed. It may need moving to another part of the garden. I saw on your blog that your dahlias had failed this year. I found growing them in pots to a size before planting out helped to get them established. That way they seemed to shrug off the worst of the slug attacks! (They do need a lot of water though, as I'm sure you know). I've always left them in the ground before to overwinter but am now undecided – leave or lift? I think the latter.



  6. I love VB too – had loads at one point but they seemed to disappear so having to start again.

    You can grow Lobelia from seed easily with a little heat woudl save you money buying the plants – I think they look great with the box.

    As for the Tropical border – well I am very impressed


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