Planting a new border

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The new garden area after the trees were removed

Readers may recall that last November, we got council permission to remove from a garden boundary four half-dead conifers that were causing a nuisance to our neighbours. The border thus created was about 5 m in length and 2 m wide, in one of the sunniest spots in the garden. November was not a good time to rush into planting, and very glad I was that I did not, given the hot, dry summer that we subsequently experienced. This gave me plenty of time to ponder what I would plant, giving scope for many lovely daydreams!

Hens enjoy the process of border-building

It also gave me time to improve the soil for the border. First, we had to get the stumps reground, as the original grinding had been rather ineffective. The resulting sawdust had to be taken away to break down on the compost heap. We then added a number of bags of cow manure and barrowed many loads of our homemade compost to the border over the ensuing months, to the delight of our hens, who were occasionally let loose into the border to scratch it over in their quest for curl grubs and other bugs. We dug the amendments into the soil to try to produce a good tilth. We got rid of all the weeds that sprang up over the months.

I had earmarked Easter as my planting goal, as it is the perfect time of year for planting: cool-enough weather (usually) so that the plants are not challenged by too much heat in their settling-in period, yet warm-enough soil for the roots to establish reasonably well before the onset of winter. My plant choices were influenced by my experiences of a local garden group's visit to my garden last September, when I felt ashamed that my garden was so bereft of flowers and I had vowed to add more early-spring colour.

Camellia Dream Girl

After much deliberation, I decided on a couple of Camellia for the back of the border - these young plants were relocated from elsewhere in the garden, so fingers crossed that they will survive. One is the exquisite semi-double, white and lavender pink 'Star Above Star' (which is often grouped with Camellia sasanqua but is strictly Camellia x vernalis), and the other is 'Dream Girl', which is a Camellia sasanqua x Camellia reticulata cross, with large, semi-double, bright pink flowers; both of these are said to cope well with sun, and bloom from winter into early spring. The previous places where these shrubs had been located were not ideal, so I hope they might spread their wings in their new spots.

Dichroa febrifuga

Accompanying them in at the back of the border are a Dichroa febrifuga - the so-called 'evergreen hydrangea', which grows to around 2-3 m and has beautiful, round bouquets of tiny blue flowers for much of the year; and a new Salvia to me - the cultivar 'Timboon', which is a cross between S. involucrata and S. karwinskii. It grows around 2 m tall and has deep burgundy-pink flowers in wine-coloured calyces in late autumn and winter, which may continue into early spring (I hope!). A couple of other new Salvia have been put into the middle section of the border - including one called 'Blue Senorita', which I know very little about at this stage.

Watsonia Wedding Bells

Smaller plants for the middle of the bed include pink Marguerite daisies, grown from cuttings from friends; several small-growing Salvia microphylla cultivars in colours of pink and cream; some recurrent-flowering hardy zonal Pelargonium with a lovely pale pink flower, from a plant grown by our godson; and spring-blooming bulbs Watsonia 'Wedding Bells' and Hippeastrum papilio. A few foliage plants have been used to provide contrast: Artemisia 'Powys Castle' and a compact form of Plectranthus argentatus, as I love the combination of silver foliage with pink blooms.

Bush turkeys have invaded our garden

I had planned to mulch the border with cane mulch, but at the moment, we are battling an invasion of bush turkeys, who delight in scratching around in cane mulch and scattering it all over the garden - and digging up plants in the process - so until I can think of a way round this problem, the bed remains unmulched.

It is all rather an anticlimax once a border is planted out: surveying the puny plants spaced far apart, the vision in one's mind of a full and floriferous riot of colour seems a very long way off, but now we just have to wait for a while until things start to grow. Every other border I have planted in my garden has never ended up as I imagined, and has been tinkered with beyond recognition from the original plan I made. I am sure this will happen to this new border too!

Reader Comments

  • By Robin 2121 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 01 April 2013

    The new border sounds delightful. You have certainly put much thought and effort into preparing the soil and choosing the plants. Good luck with the bush turkeys! Thanks, Robin. I have decided to put small metal obelisks over the newly planted specimens as a deterrent to the turkeys! Deirdre

  • By margaret 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 01 April 2013

    It is exciting, being able to plan, and plant, a new section of the garden. Your choices sound a good mix, which will provide plenty of colour. Hope you can discourage the bush turkeys - one pest I don"t have, and hope they never find their way here! Thanks, Margaret. It is strange how the turkeys have congregated round here - on the other hand, I don"t have the rabbits that roam in your area! Hope they have been keeping away lately? Deirdre

  • By Peta 2758 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Monday, 01 April 2013

    Hope you have a few little spaces for plants from the Collectors" Plant Fair! My piggy bank is bursting. Seriously though your new border sounds lovely. The only way I can get new gardens now is to dig up lawn and that"s on the horizon. (Particularly if my husband goes away for a few days!). I absolutely love Dichroa and plan a garden in dappled shade featuring a mass of them underplanted with old fashioned double primroses and tiny bulbs. Just have to get the grass out first. Your idea with the Dichroas sounds wonderful. It is a fantastic plant. Yes, it is so exciting to think that there are now less than two weeks to go until the plant fair! With all my planting this weekend, I now have room in my plant-holding area for more! Deirdre

  • By Georgina 2076 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 01 April 2013

    Your new garden sounds wonderful-all that space with SUN. Good luck with your bush turkey. My garden was totally destroyed 2 years ago. I had all garden beds encased in wire 3 feet high for over 12 months. After all the eggs hatched from the mound it was dug out and on the return of the male last year to take up residence again the old mound area was surrounded and encased in wire. He did finally get the message he was not wanted. But I have kept all the wire! Good luck, Georgina Thanks, Georgina. That is really scary about the turkeys. We had at least one chick this year - it was actually quite cute for a little while! We have about six of them hanging around. We chase them away every time we see them but so far they don"t seem to understand. I have put metal obelisks over the top of each new plant to stop them being dug up and am hoping this works. Deirdre

  • By Libby 2093 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 01 April 2013

    My garden too lacks spring time flowers. It is currently in full bloom and looks glorious. Saddly I cut down all this lush growth in early spring and it all looks a bit sad. You have inspired me to consider reintroducing a couple of areas of spring flowers.I think I may try the watsonia you mentioned and if I can find room some Dierama pulcherrimums. Thanks for your inspirational thoughts. Thanks, Libby. This time of year is so wonderful for Sydney gardens but I think I went too far in making aummer and autumn the most flowery times. It is nice to have a bit of colour in spring too! Deirdre

  • By Steve 2230 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 01 April 2013

    Yes those brush turkeys do make a mess, (worse than the chooks) a domestic garden is too small for them, but I think that it is nice to see some birds, animals, reptiles, amphibians and even insects in the garden, that is half of the reason that I have mine. You were wise to leave the space for the plants to be able to develop fully in your border, I seem incapable of seeing the future and always soon find that everything is too crowded. Yours sounds lovely. Steve. We do seem to have more than our far share of wildlife here - possums, cockatoos, brush turkeys, many species of lizards, myriad birds ... some destructiv, some not. I still always plant things too close at the start - it is certainly hard to visualise the final form of a plant. Deirdre

  • By Lynn 4064 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Tuesday, 02 April 2013

    Steve is more than generous about bush turkeys. They invaded my garden a few years ago one August just after I had put down fresh mulch and built a mound. The only way I could control their destruction until the end of the breeding season was to build chicken wire fences around all my garden plots - I have no lawn only paths through garden plots. August to February is their breeding season so beware then!cheers Lynn Thanks for the warning. Last year, our turkeys used our existing compost heap as their mound so they didn"t actually do much damage. This year they are disturbing mulch looking for food, I think. Deirdre

  • By Lindy 2093 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Friday, 05 April 2013

    Hi, I am a new member and looking forward to enjoying your website! I have bush turkeys in my garden and someone told me that they hate water so whenever I see them I squirt them with the hose and they make a hurried getaway! They might have taken the hint as I havent seen them - or evidence of them - for a couple of days. Thanks for that great tip. I will try it! Deirdre.

  • By Sandhya 2126 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 April 2013

    Went to measure a garden - we were told that they also have bush turkeys foraging through their plant beds. The have left a couple of stuffed toys near the entry point- I believe that"s quite effective in deterring the creatures! Sandhya Another great tip - I will try it! Deirdre

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