Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Border lines

The last few weeks have seen borders flowering their hearts out, vegetable plots yield bounteous crops and cut flower borders present armfuls of late summer goodies. The almost continuous rain has changed brown lawns to green (and coupled with warm days, has also meant they need cutting again every week). My new borders at the back of the garden were progressing reasonably well until too much of the said rain on the clay soil meant clearing and digging work has taken an unscheduled respite.

The two new borders are16m and 13m long, respectively, and will also partly act as living screens whilst also allowing glimpses of the open countryside beyond my neighbour's garden. Tall plants like Miscanthus sinensis 'Kleine Fontane', Rudbeckia laciniata 'Herbstsonne' and Rudbeckia maxima will mingle with successive decreasing plant heights, Veronicasturm virginicum 'Alba' to Geranium x 'Rozanne' and shrubs to create colour and interest throughout the seasons. Autumn and winter outlines, seed heads, bark colour and leaf colour are important considerations for these borders. Planting will take place this month, once we can get back on the soil. Autumn is simply the best time to plant, ever. Moist soil, warmed by the summer, means roots get off to a good start before the frosts and winter's mantle settle in. I will be transplanting quite a few tall plants from another border nearer the house into the new ones. Although only three years old, this border is now quite riddled with ground elder so it will be a good opportunity to take everything out, treat the rampant weed (although, a friend on Twitter advises that it is pretty good to eat - boil like spinach) and re-plant. Taking out the tall plants means there will also be a good view down to the end of the garden and I feel there will be more sense and feel of space in the garden.

The old farm workers cottage I live in is literally situated in and surrounded by fields amidst gently rolling countryside so I'd like to bring more of the landscape into the garden. Wildlife abounds as the garden is an oasis and a roadside Little Chef for birds, bees and butterflies. Two days ago I watched two pairs of Buzzards chase some crows over the trees at the bottom of the garden, there's a pair of Hobby falcons nesting in the old hedgerow in the field opposite the cottage and dusk brings bats along with Tawny and Barn owls on their hunter-gatherer missions. We also have a good population of Dunnocks in the hedges. Birds of all sizes will enjoy lingering seed heads in the new borders and add extra interest and enjoyment over the winter months.

The harvest has been late here in this corner of Cambridgeshire and the wheat field surrounding the house was only harvested last week, the end of September. An area of land has been set aside as a bonfire pile where old shrubs, prunings and clippings have been piled after their removal from the new borders and elsewhere in the garden. Due to the late harvest and it's proximity to the wheat field, the bonfire heap has been left for longer than usual, until it is safe to light it. This has created an added wildlife bonus as a young Kestrel enjoys perching above the heap looking for lunch each day. The site of the bonfire heap will eventually become a raised wooden platform to enjoy the views, birdwatching and star gazing: rural living means no atmosphere pollution from streetlights and the garden is perfect to enjoy and brush up on stars and planets.