November rain! November rain! Fitfully beating the window pane ~ Ellen Palmer Allerton
I’m midway between planning and planting the back Japanese garden and filtering out the appropriate plants from the front garden collection. And these chilly, endlessly rainy November days are the most appropriate time to itemise what hard and soft landscaping there is already and what might be added. This after all is the main body of the garden – both skeleton and flesh.
Not in the plans however was last week’s catastrophic boiler failure and necessary switch to LPG supply. This meant that the front dais garden was immediate host to a couple of large red cannisters. Not to be too downcast by this eyesore, I upcycled a white wooden louvred screen – a structure quite in keeping with the planned cottage garden theme.
Already in the back garden are some obvious structures, not least the half-built teahouse styled gazebo. Also a greenhouse, boundary hedgings, paved pathways and steps between the different garden levels. There is also a cascade and ponds (awaiting plumbing). Woodland of willow, hawthorn, ash and hazel form the surrounds.
Either side of the interior pathway (through the planned gravelled garden) I’ve placed a pair of small, arched trellises with a black metal obelisk opposite. These will act as staging posts for seasonal featured plants and will also help to partially occlude the entire garden view.
More hard landscaping on the planned list is a wooden screen to occlude the greenhouse, a new garden gate, as well as ‘clapper’ stile to separate the Japanese from the English woodland part of the garden.
Since the main level of the back garden is raised, narrow fencing has just been put in all along the edging (upcycled roofing struts to be painted black). The evergreen and deciduous hedging in front, includes Sarcococcas, Forsythia ‘Micador’, and two varieties of Japanese euonymus.
When it comes to living structures, trees are the obvious first choice. My two potted Japanese acers will be planted in Spring but already in the soil are a miniature Conference pear and apple tree. The latter, a Worcester Pearmain (I’ve wished for, for years) though partially self- fertile would do better pollinated by another apple.
To that end I’m about to plant a bare root hedge of crab apple (Malus sylvestris) an excellent, compatible pollinator. This ”green architecture’ is also designed to hide the compost heap and further along from it will be another short hedge of native Spindle (Euonymus europaeus).
After trees, shrubs are the next obvious choice for structure and ideal for a potted garden if not going to grow too tall. Thus, a Photinia and two Cotinus will pack the vertical gaps in the front garden whilst more hydrangeas, a Japanese quince, spireas, and rhododendron are planned for the back garden.
Statuesque annuals will then have to pad out the structure until the coffers fill again. And given the wonderful architectural impact of Castor oil plants this year, they are already on the seed wishlist.