On a Chalk Hillside March 2019

Posted on 08.03.2019 |
Added in Sheila May's Blog

More Boundary plants and pruning
The area of boundary plants I am going to talk about this month is probably the most photographed boundary of the garden – it goes from beside the patio we created above the pond down the steps beside the pond/bog garden so is the back drop to the view of the pond and bog garden as you go down the garden.  As we sit on this patio to drink our mid-morning coffee each morning, it is also the most viewed by us.  Like most gardeners I almost never sit in my garden relaxing – we rest on various benches during our labours for a cup of tea or coffee for a short time, seeing all that needs doing.   Consequently I wanted something to look at all through the year as well as scent and colour.  
Here is a shot from May 17 showing most of the boundary bed in question with the pond/Bog garden in the foreground to show how the colours compliment the Bog garden:-

The boundary border starts level with the patio as you can see below with a large bush of Rosa ‘Lavender Lassie' (beautifully scented and flowering both in June and again in October):-

Note all that ivy.  Whilst absolutely alive with insects and butterflies when it is flowering in September and October this plant is not supposed to be here.  I planted a variegated ivy to cling to the fence, but this common Ivy Hedera Helix came through from next door and swamped it.  It pushed the Rosa ‘Lavender Lassie' forward onto the path, as well as the and the Escallonia you can see on the right.  Given how much ivy there is in this picture you will have to take my word for it that next to the rose is an Escallonia ‘Donard Seedling' and then two Olearia macrodonta, both evergreen shrubs.  Both have different leaf types with the Olearia macrodonta looking like a grey holly, and both flowering, though the Escallonia ‘Donard Seedling' flowers almost continuously all summer, as you can see from the picture below taken in October 17:-

The original planting had a climbing frame further down level with the pond over which from one side a ‘Graham Thomas' twined toward a Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina' coming up the other side – both somewhat evergreen with the ‘Serotina' having quite glaucous darker green leaves as a contrast to those of the ‘Graham Thomas' you can see in the above picture, intended to give scent in a continuum from early to late summer.  ‘Serotina' was planted behind a large Rosa Iceberg that was an original plant here when we arrived, and next to that I planted a winter flowering honeysuckle – Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty' so that we would have winter scent too.    
I acquired a Virginia Creeper () cutting from a friend and stuck it in behind the Olearia macrodonta against the fence post.  From my sister's garden came a roughly dug up and severely pruned Rosa Roseraie de l'Hay' which I put next to the Olearia so that the support for Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas' was behind it.  Then I was given a cutting of Golden Hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus') by my brother in law (his covered the whole side of his garage).  I decided that this should have its own chunky 2 metre high trellis panel (the sort you create arbours out of) going at right angles across the border as a sort of full stop visually for that part of the border.  If you look again at the first picture you will just notice the golden hop foliage which gives you some idea how far out from their original moorings on the fence line all these plants had got.  
But, before you relax, we accidentally came away from a nursery at the end of one summer with two half price rambling roses (as you do), and so we hammered in a couple of poles to the patio side of the original climbing frame and planted Rosa ‘Sanders White Rambler' next to the honeysuckle (i.e. behind Rosa Roseraie de l'Hay' (which at that stage was still quite small in its growth habit) and Olearia Macrodonta, and bang up against the Virginia creeper.  Should you happen to research the height and width range of this plant you will note it gets to 3.5m high and 2.75m wide.  Obviously the only thing I paid real attention to was that it was scented.  We would train it onto the climbing frame the honeysuckles were on as it grew I blithely said.   
So many plants vying for light and space, all surviving and thriving, and all the climbers/ramblers throwing out branches that were 4-5 meters long, suddenly appearing over the other plants.  The path quickly became impossible to walk down by June each year, even with the kind of quick tidy up you can see happening here:-

Look, the path is almost useable for almost a meter!!  You can clearly see the solid mass of the Rosa Roseraie de l'Hay' blocking his way.   After three years or so this rose must have made enough root stock to reach the water table because it became huge and acted as the climbing support for the honeysuckle, the rambling rose (and lots of brambles) such that the Virginia Creeper hid behind it. Can you see the Ivy top left in that picture – and recall how large it was from the photos above?  It was quite staggering what a difference it made to be able to completely clear all that Ivy including the root from next door whilst we were repairing the fence after Storm Ernest in January 2018. 

 All the green patches on the fence are where the ivy was.  You can now see there are two Olearia Macrodonta – one falling forward onto the path.  As this is not a shrub you should prune until April (or after the last frosts) I was loathe to touch it during this exercise.  This was also true for the Rosa Roseraie de l'Hay' which is the sort of rose you should prune after flowering rather than in the spring, so I proposed leaving that until then too.  A fact that caused heated discussion with himself – I was wussing out and not doing a ‘proper job' by leaving these two untouched.  Whilst I was adamant I was not touching the Olearia as I was sure it would not cope with the shock of the winter weather to come on newly opened cuts on quite thick branches, I agreed to cut half of the Rosa Roseraie de l'Hay' back (the half over the path.)  My reasoning was that is a rugosa type rose and I was sure would cope with the winter weather, we would just not have the flowers.  At last we were able to untangle everything – rather like unpicking a tapestry or complex embroidery.  Only at this stage was it apparent how much straggly growth the rambler and the creeper had made.   It would have helped to have had more than one pair of hands each as we painstakingly unwove the branches of each shrub or climber from all the rest and then decided what was staying and what was going.
Here's everything separated out, and pruned (more was done later):-

Here is looking back up the path from the trellis you see at the right of the above picture after plants are tied to their supports:-

The angle of shot may not be good enough to show you that the 3-4m long rambling rose branches were carefully wound along the horizontal supports back and forth to try and promote flowering shoots along the length of the now horizontal branches.  I don't like a rambler to look too trussed up so some ends were left to droop.  We aimed to do a similar job with the Virginia Creeper.  You can see even with my husbands' efforts to “prune” the Winter flowering honeysuckle (Lonicera  x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty') each time he went near it what was left was in very good flower the whole month – a lovely scent as we worked.  
By April it was all knitting together again – but NOT over the path – and you can see the severely pruned front half of the Rosa Roseraie de l'Hay' shooting again:-

In June at the top of that boundary border all is still well behaved round the Rosa ‘Lavender Lassie', and look you can see the Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) for the first time!

The Golden Hop, Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus' is spreading UP the garden rather than down, and I can still see the Iceberg Rose in amongst it though the Winter Flowering Honeysuckle, Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty' is buried under hops:-

By the end of June the boundary border looked like this:-

Unlike previous years the R. Roseraie de l'Hay', the unpruned branches of which had already flowered in early May as a back drop to the Rogersias in the bog garden in front of it, is flowering again in late June on the branches that were pruned in January, (note to self, do this again this year!) – at the same time as the Rosa ‘Sanders White Rambler' which is looking much more impressive on its frame.  Here's a closer view:-

In the picture below you can see Rosa ‘Sanders White Rambler' with both honeysuckles flowering – both Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas' (the pale white and yellow flower) and Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina' (the larger reddish flower).  Here, “late flowering” tends to mean end of June!

As we don't have smell-o-vision you will just have to take my word that walking down that path during June and July was a sensory delight – the scents from all the different roses and honeysuckles wafting in different combinations as you moved along the support structures was a delight.  
And by the end of September, not only have I been able to walk down this path all summer, the Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper) has actually managed to spread without having to crawl along the ground and provide the colour and texture contrast to the Escallonia ‘Donard Seedling' and particularly the Olearia Macrodonta I had originally envisioned:-

Next time, early April flowers and the start of the Vegetable year for us.  

Sheila May

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