When we first started the garden in 1998 - we were immediately attracted to the romantic idea of walking between long mixed borders in high summer , filled with colour and scent .
We put down black plastic on the meadow grass over winter - and removed the dead turf in the spring . We had grown lots of perennials from seed , ready and waiting to plant .
we laid them out in classic style - diverging away from each other at one end . So that you can view the whole border. An arbour was made , with a seat - vines , clematis and honeysuckle.
the following four photographs show the same view of the borders in four months May/June/July and August . Note the bright , golden yellow Sambucus plumosa aurea towards the left hand rear as a marker shrub in all photos.
May - Oriental Poppies , Lupins , and Sweet Rocket ( Hesperis matronalis ) and geums are early to show.
same view in June - with hemerocallis ' Apricot Beauty ' in the foreground . The delphiniums are out at this time - some just visible by the sambucus.
Same again - this time July, showing Achillea 'Gold Plate ' , Crocosmia 'Lucifer' and Shasta daisies .
Last time - August - more Shasta daisies , Verbena bonariensis , and tall mulleins ( Verbascum nigrum ) at the rear , with edges of Anaphalis and Knautia macedonica.
we grow our lupins from seed - the blue and white is 'The Governor' , the white is 'Noble Maiden' , the Pink & white 'Chatelaine . yellow is 'Chandelier' and
most peoples favourite ' My Castle '
Most of our perennials are grown from seed, cuttings , or division . At the moment we have - Lupins - Delphiniums - Centaurea macrocephala - Hesperis matronalis - Papaver orientalis - Polemonium - Knautia macedonica - Anaphalis - Geranium 'Wargraves pink ' - Geranium ' Ann Folkard ' - Geranium psilostemon -Alstroemeria aurea and ' Orange King '- Lychnis chalcedonica - Lychnis coronaria - Galega officianalis - Hollyhocks - Cephalaria gigantea - Cimicifuga racemosa purpurea - Aconitum - Cardoons - Campanulas lactiflora & persificolia & glomerata - Hemerocallis various - Crocosmia ' Lucifer ' - Geums - Shasta daisies - Verbascum nigrum - Oenothera fruticosa 'Fireworks ' - Penstemon 'Garnet ' - Allium - Acanthus mollis - Helenium - helianthus - Phlox paniculata - Dianthus (pinks/Sweet Williams ) - sedums - Feverfew - Telekia - Cornflower - Lilies - Malva moschata -Asters/michaelmas daisies.
and some I have forgetten I'm sure !
A long escallonia hedge protects from the worst of the gale force south-west winds that can blow storm force at any time from end of October to end of March .
Verbascum nigrum , with a dark Sambucus 'Guincho Purple ' , red Crocosmia 'Lucifer' , and lavatera.
The wonderful blue of the Delphiniums.
both borders in full summer colour - the hills of west cork beyond .
There are shrubs at the back of the borders , adding structure , height , flowers , and a contrast to the perennials - this photo shows Viburnum opulus sterile ( snowball tree )& Weigeila florida var.
Leycesteria formosa ( one of many common names is pheasant berry ) has a graceful , arching habit , these fantastic purple flowers , followed by black berries - certainly adored by our blackbirds
next door is Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile ' - its reputation for sweet fragrance is well deserved
Some of the other border shrubs are Spirea argutea - Myrtle - Viburnum opulus sterile - Viburnum Bodnantense - Ilex 'Golden King ' - Bereberis 'Harlequin ' - Sambucus Plumosa aurea - Sambucus ' Guincho Purple ' - Rosa moyseii 'Geranium ' - Lavatera - Escallonia 'Apple Blossom ' - Deutzia ' Mont Rose ' - grisellinia 'Bantry Bay '.
A striking day lily that we got from Clare Austin Hardy Plants - called ' Neyron Rose '
This is Centaurea macrocephala - the large thistle-like heads are the size of a tennis ball . height about 3 feet in July . easy from seed .
Who can resist oriental poppies ?
Angelica gigas - the purple form of angelica . It is a biennial , easy from seed . Doesn't flower until August ( note Heleniums in background ) - but worth waiting for . we got our original plant from Clare Austin plants . Wasps absolutely love it - but they won't bother you as long as you only look !
But its not all fun and colour - borders are a lot of work and high maintenance ( like all the best gardening ! ) - we begin with cutting down and tidying at the end of November , then weeding , lifting and dividing , moving things about , planting new plants . in March we feed with fish, blood and bone , and then mulch with manure . we fetch about a hundred bags , ten at a time in our old Ford ! Then in April and May its staking and tieing .
On goes the manure.
Here is Chris finishing off the border edges in April. The plants have started to grow , and seem to wait to ' go off ' like a box of fireworks .
we do have two supervisors ......................
Chief supervisor Polly and
Campanula lactiflora and Lychnis coronaria in July .
This was previously an evergreen border designed to shelter the pond from south west winds . The trees and shrubs had grown too big , and the path was becoming difficult . In March 07 we decided to replant , and make a flower border , opening up the pond area .
First - the trees and shrubs were cut down with a chain saw - then we got Michael O'Donovan ( O'Donovans Tool Hire - Dunmnaway ) to come in with a mini-digger and remove the tree roots . A long process of digging over the soil continued the work thru' the winter - until we were finally ready to plant in the spring .
We thought a blue/purple/gold theme would work well
- some shrubs were bought from Deelish garden centre Skibbereen - a Lophomyrtus ( purple )- Ceanothus 'Zanzibar ' ( gold ) - Buddleia salvifolia - Sambuccus ' Black Lace ' , Physocarpus ' Diabilo ' ( purple ) - Sorbaria ' Gem ' ( gold ) - Euphorbia characias ' Wulfenii ' ( blue ) - Cotinus coggyria ( purple ) - a dwarf Pittosporum ' Tandara Gold ' - Weigeila middendorfiana ( yellow flowers ) . And a plant we always wantd to find a space for , an Irish yew - a golden one .
Perennials - we used many of our ' stock ' plants such as Hemerocallis , Anthemis , Milium effusum , Oenothera biennis , along with new ones grown from seed such as Veronica longifolia ( blue ) . There was interplanting with Alliums , dutch Iris , grasses such as Calamagrostis ' Karl Foerster ' , and Miscanthus gigantea . A tall Inula magnifica sits at the back , with some new Sinacalia tangutica we got from Avondale nurseries , Coventry .
anyway - here are a few photos from the first season 2007
Chris sitting on our new home nade bench -enjoying the finished border by the pond in June .
Dutch Iris , annual Echiums at the front edge .
view from the other side of the pond .
The pond is much improved with the removal of the dominating tall shrubs and trees previously behind the bench .
view as approached from the house
the border is only weeks old here in June - but lots of colours from anthemis , echiums , alliums , and Euryops pectinata.