The new Classic Bed

The beginning of the classic bed © Isabelle Van Groeningen
The Beginning

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – auf Deutsch lesen – I mentioned last week that one project that we are planning now is a series of small sample borders, that hopefully will inspire customers to plant something similar in their own garden.



Our big herbaceous border

The Classic Bed is one inspired by our big herbaceous border, which is 3,5m wide and XXm long, split into 4 sections by the cross paths that cross it. It was planted in early spring 2008 just before the opening of the Garden Academy and has largely remained unchanged. Although its design concept is still there, subtle changes have taken place over time. Each year we add new plants where some have gone (either because they have not liked it with us, because they have come to the end of their life, or because we have removed them as they did not do what we expected of them.) 

The new classic bed

We decided that a logic place for this new bed would be the end of the first border section by the Roothouse Terrace, so that it forms part of the bigger border picture. Yet it also works well on its own. It is planted as a free-standing bed, so you can walk all the way round it and view it from all four sides. Along the edge is a thick scarf of about knee-high perennials that will provide a season-long display of colour and structure. Towards the centre the planting gets higher, reaching about chest height at the height of the season.   Measuring 2m by 3,5m, it contains many of my border favourites such as Ladies’ Mantle, Catmint, Sedums, Euphorbia seguieriana and Stachys monierei ‘Hummelo’ as edging plants, whilst the middle is filled amongst others with Diamond grass, Aster horizontalis ‘Lady in Black’, Salvia ‘Caradonna’, Coneflower and Lathyrus vernus.  Not all my favourites are in it, for that it is too small.

Planting the new bed

I admit that the greatest luxury in life is to have a wonderful young, dynamic gardening team at hand for these projects. Yesterday morning they set to work digging out all the bulbs and perennials, splitting them, removing any weeds, and sorting them into crates.  Then the bed was prepared, forked over, adding mycorrhiza and soil activator (compost was already spread in the autumn). In the afternoon, the laid out the sample border, based on my planting plan, by late afternoon the new section was finished.

How to deal with the remaining part of the border

We could not just chop off a section of the existing border. An amputated bed would never look right. Consequently, all the plants were lifted, except for the dark red roses (the wonderfully scented English rose ‘Munstead Wood’) and the climbers growing up the post. This morning I had the pleasure of re-structuring a new bed, placing the divided perennials in their new position, leaving spaces for the areas where we want to try out some other, new plants, such as Lythrum virgatum ‘Swirl’, Salvia azurea, Agastache ‘Linda’ and Echinacea ‘Sensation Pink’. It is lovely to have so much space again to try out some new plants! By Lunchtime it was all done and dusted. Plants in, bulbs in, places marked where the new plants will be planted – spring can come.

I am so looking forward to this freshly planted space. Each beginning is always a little shy, but I am always amazed how fast some plants come into growth, how quickly they develop and become major players, whilst others need a little time to arrive in their new location. Precisely these shy ones develop into long-lived garden friends that provide many years of gardening joy.