Back in April of this year I created a new island bed out the front of our property to accommodate some of the many plants that have been languishing in pots around the garden. The idea for the new bed started to form last summer when I stood many of those pots on an area of paving that was a legacy from the previous owners. I was getting bored of the endless watering after work that came with the hot dry summer and I realised there had to be a better solution. I had initially thought that the front garden was too shady for my exotics, but they seemed to be doing OK and indeed drew several positive comments from friends and neighbours. As it turns out, during the summer at least, the bed does get a good amount of sun first thing in the morning and again in the afternoon.
With the soil having been hidden away under paving for many years I set about lifting and repositioning the slabs to create the edging to the new bed. I dug it over, removed the larger stones and added farmyard manure to improve the soil and help retain moisture. I also applied a dressing of blood, fish and bone and once planted up, finished it off with a mulch of my own garden compost.
The plants were set out in their pots for a week before settling on the final layout and were planted on the late May Bank Holiday Monday. Since then I have tinkered with the scheme adding a few more plants here and there, giving me currently 22 different plants in the bed. Central to the design is a seed-grown Paulownia which I have pollarded at 60cm in the hope that I will get the huge leaves that such drastic pruning is supposed to encourage. About half the plants have been raised from seed with the remainder from cuttings or divisions. Somehow I feel an attachment to plants that I have grown myself, far more than ones that I have bought in.
I’ve had several requests for details as to what I’ve planted, so here is the list as it currently stands. As I put it together I was surprised at just how many plants I’ve managed to squeeze into an area that is only 2.7m x 1.8m. I know there are too many plants and that over time I will need to edit the planting, but then that’s half the fun of gardening!
Canna ‘Russian Red’
Canna x ehemanii
Colocasia esculenta ‘Burgundy Stem’
Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’
Persicaria ‘Purple Fantasy’
Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’
Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple’