Gardening Magazine

The Fence Border

By Patientgardener @patientgardener


I have mentioned in recent posts that I have been clearing the border along the fence at the top of the bottom steps.  The fence has been stained as dark as possible and my eldest son has run his electrical cable along it which is going to take power to his workshop – the cable just needs pulling taught now.

In this border are two unknown roses that were in situ when we moved in about 9 years ago.  I previously had a Ceanothus planted against the fence.  It dominated this space but produced few flowers and ever winter got cut back by frosts.  I needed to cut it back so the cable could be run behind it but I decided that enough was enough if a plant doesn’t perform as it should the it should find its way to the great compost heap in the sky.  Removing the shrub turned out to be an excellent idea.  I realised how much it over powered you as you came up the steps.  As you can see the border is very narrow here and this is dictated by the placement of the bottom steps and path.

Having removed the shrub and appreciated the space it left I decided that I didn’t want anything large here.  I wanted to show case the roses, one is a deep pink and very pretty and the other orange/yellow and less pretty, but even so I wanted to give them a chance to look their best.  I  have an increasing fascination in combining plants to give interesting textures and I have decided that the borders along the fences will be more focussed towards foliage whilst the interior Big Border and the Cottage Garden Border will have flowers as their focus.

I have cut back my neighbours shrubs which was causing a rain shadow over the border.  The shrubs on the other side of the fence take enough of the mositure so I needed to do everything I could to help the plants I was planting out. As you can see I have planted out a range of plants that should  do well in the conditions.  I have added a dwarf bamboo that has been residing in a pot on the patio  for years and seems to have thrived on neglect so I am hoping it will cope well with the dryish conditions in this border.  I also think the light foliage contrasts well with the dark fence.  I wanted to have a dark and light theme so added a dark-leaved Saxifraga ‘Silver Velvet’, a Japanese Painted Fern, a dark Sedum, a variegated Origanum.  The Saxifraga will be dug up for the winter and the fern will die back so I have added some double Snowdrops, Flora Pleno which hopefully will add a sparkle early in the year.  I am really pleased that all of the plants, bare one, of the plants I have included were residing in pots around the patio so it hasn’t cost me any money and I now have some empty pots to fill.


I now have to continue with this style of planting beyond the Choisya ‘Sundance’ which has had a brutal prune to try to make it grow more compact and less straggly.  My neighbor has been clearing some of the shrubs on his side of the fence so I am hoping that the increased light will encourage the Choisya to grow more evenly.  The border leads up to the workshop and now all the upheaval is finished I can really focus on it.  I have a few ideas for the plants I want to include but I need to do some more research first.


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