This is the blank canvas I had to play with a year ago, surely every gardener’s dream, lots of lovely rich soil just waiting to be planted! My brief to my garden designer had been that I would do the planting myself, using firstly the plants I’d removed, and then adding new plants as I worked out what I wanted to go and where. She’d made recommendations in the plan, for instance the empty bed to the right of the path would be ‘prairie’ planting, which I interpreted to be as inspired by Piet Oudolf, whose double borders at Wisley are a sight to behold in midsummer, if only I had that amount of space to play with! The other thing I wanted to do was to use colour more effectively and I planned to start with deep intense colours close to the house, through to cool shades and whites at the end of the garden. Naturally some of these rules will get broken, but if you can’t break your own rules now and then, what is the point?
So of course, the first rule to be broken was the siting at the front edge, the spectacular Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ that you see in the foreground. This treasure had been hiding its light under the proverbial bushel up near the shed pre-redesign, and my garden designer realised how much better it would look as a specimen as you enter the garden. However it has been in the garden longer than I’ve lived here and so we had to approach the moving of it with care, and it needed very careful nurturing all last summer. But I”m thrilled to say that it has survived the move and is just starting to flower for me this year. The lime green buds release a froth of white flowers that are held in tiers, it is a bold shrub but airy and dainty enough to occupy the spot it does, and this time of the year before the garden is flowering at full tilt, a bit of contrast in with the deeper colours in the rest of the border works just fine.