How our long border has evolved over time

I’ve been looking back over my old photos while planning our garden for the coming year and with hindsight the garden’s gradual evolution is interesting, to me at least. Our long border in particular (which is not long at all at only 6 metres by 1 metre) surprised me by how much it has changed each year because in my head so many of the plants were the same. 

2012

At this point we were still renting. Our garden is shared with the flat above. The main border at the back of the patio is barely visible beneath a flood of ivy. I suspect this was Rumbles our cat’s favourite incarnation!

2013

In November 2013 we bought our flat and that suddenly shone a new light on ‘our garden’. With ivy cleared, we set about thinking about making it our own.

2014

When we bought the flat we planted a few bits and pieces in our first garden together. Alchemilla mollis, Antirrhinum, Armeria maritinum, Aubrietia and Hebe were the plants I added at random from the garden centre. The Fatsia and Hydrangeas were already there. I kept the Hebe but nothing else stayed for long… Frustrated by my attempts and wanting to learn more, I hopped on an RHS course at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh from October (the rest obviously is now history).

2015

This was the year it really took off as we found ourselves on a BBC documentary to make over our garden ourselves while renovating our flat. Nothing like a bit of pressure to really put some effort in! The course helped me go from 0 to 60 extremely quickly, as did guidance from one of the UK’s leading gardeners! 😉 The garden was my revision ground to grow everything and to label them to learn names. It has remained my experiment ground ever since. Dahlias have taken over here along with Monarda and Salvias. Most of these I still have. Even the tender Fuchsia on the right.

2016

Thrilled by the achievements of the year before and a head loaded with thousands of exciting new plants to explore, the border was extreme in 2016 to say the least! I added Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ to set off the purples and pinks, an experiment that paid off big time and I now repeat this every year. This was the last year I grew the Eryngium planum at the back because it was too blue, and the dull red Cordyline was re-homed.

2017

Grasses were the big addition in 2017 as I’d grown tonnes of different species from seed. Here you can see Hakonechloa, Deschampsia, Pennisetum and Miscanthus. The overall fuzziness I was really happy with.

2018

The year just gone must have been the best year because the grasses and meadow look were bang on point for me with Lysimachia atropurpurea ‘Beaujolais’ I’d grown from seed the year before the absolute star alongside.

The one constant throughout all of these years is that I’m never, ever happy with the border at the time! It feels like everything is going wrong. But then looking back I can see more was right than I realised and I’ve learnt so much with each additional season. Thinking about it all has me really excited for the year ahead and new tweaks to our tiny long border 🙂

Our garden opens for the NGS to raise money for charity in September and we’d love you to pop and see how it’s all come together this year!

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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