Since my family and I moved to our new build property and began creating a garden from scratch, the space has been transformed into a garden that prioritises both family and the wildlife.
Throughout the summer the bees excitedly shook the Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and the butterflies fluttered back and forth between the Achillea ‘Cloth of Gold’ and Verbena bonariensis – and it was glorious. I have particularly enjoyed watching the birds at the wildlife pond in the recent months where they are comfortably perching on a log secured over it.
Whilst a garden is never ‘complete’, the rear garden is now in a place that will simply evolve with each passing year, and I will make edits where I see fit and in response to nature. The next stage of the garden creation is on the borders around the house. There are a number of borders here and each will serve a different purpose.
On either side of the front door is a border, and both of these borders will be split into two. One half will be a dedicated container garden, the half closest to the door, and the other half will have its own individual theme. The first border I am working on is the provisionally named the ‘Red and Green Border’.
I prepared this border in several steps, and it required some hard work.
The first task was to remove the turf and although it was not deeply rooted, it was a tough task removing it using only a spade. After this I dug through the border and removed any small boulders that the house builders simply turfed over.
I installed an eco-grid foundation on the half dedicated to the container garden. The eco-grid system is a great piece of kit that clicks together and comes apart just as easily. It is cheap and is made of recycled plastics.
Once the eco-grid foundation was complete, I added plenty of organic matter and grit to the rest of the border to condition the soil and improve drainage.
The red and green border is provisionally named this as it will feature a number of evergreen shrubs, grasses, and plants that are red or green in colour. This is a gorgeous colour combination, very appropriate coming into a festive time of year and, because they are evergreen or semi-evergreen, I will get to enjoy the border over the winter months.
The shrubs and plants I chose were a relatively easy decision; the inclusion of grasses however, is a slightly riskier choice. Grasses are often found in large borders due to the visual impact they bring when planted in a group. This brings structural versatility to a border but more importantly, they bring movement to the area. The red and green border is small and I have opted to plant a group of low growing grasses that will bring movement to the border but not compete in size against the neighbouring plant pots in the container garden.
Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus Albovariegatus’ is a dark, evergreen shrub that grows to around one metre and planted at the back of the border, will act as a backdrop to the planting in front.
If you are interested in topiary or hedging then euonymus is a fantastic alternative to Buxus which can suffer from the air born fungus ‘box blight’, and box tree caterpillars.
At the front of the border I planted several heuchera, specifically Heuchera ‘Palace purple’. This heuchera is semi-evergreen and bares a dominant display of metallic bronze to purple leaves and loose panicles of small pink flowers (The RHS, 2021).
Behind the heuchera will sit a block of purple flowering echinacea. This perennial will grow to around 30cm and it puts on a beautiful display of flowers from late summer all the way through to autumn. Visually, the purple flower heads of the echinacea will grace the top of the bronze and purple leaves of the heuchera, providing a similarity in colour but contrast in form and texture.
The ornamental grass to be included in this border is Carex ‘Amazon mist’. This grass is a very tough and reliable evergreen that thrives in most conditions. It will provide a softness from its arching green foliage that will subtly tame the bold qualities of the other plants. Like the euonymus and heuchera, it will provide year round interest with the additional benefit of adding movement in the border.
This is my initial planting plan consisting of one shrub variety, two plant varieties, and an ornamental grass. A small space like this can often look larger when planted simply and boldly.
Come spring, I will begin the other side which will have a different theme.
Andy Peasgood is a Principal Dancer with Scottish Ballet and a keen gardener. His performance career is fast paced and he finds balance in the garden with particular interests in planting, wildlife and design. You can follow Andy’s progress as he builds ‘A Garden from Scratch’ in his regular column in Scotland Grows magazine and keep up to date with him on his Instagram feed.