Back from Malvern and my four ‘Blogathon’ show posts, and then down to Devon to meet the Dobies team (discussions on the next few months – we’ll tell you about our plans in due course), I am relieved to see that the new potager has not suffered in my absence. A little weeding, the addition of some bamboo towers to support climbing French beans (‘Cobra’), the planting out of same, including the dwarf variety ‘Ferrari’, and I’m ready to turn my attention to the plot boundaries.
Boundaries – walls, fences or hedges – not only delineate your property, they can be put to good use. It depends on available space, aspect (sunny or shady location) and whether they are to provide privacy, shelter from prevailing winds, protection and sustenance for wildlife, and even crops for our own use. If you cannot stand the sight of your neighbour’s hedge, or soil-impoverishing greedy Lleylandii, plant something you love on your side – in pots if necessary. If you have the space think native hedgerows – hazel, bullace, maple, crab apple, rowan, hawthorn and wild rose; or their cultivated equivalents. Clipped evergreens provide winter cover and break the force of strong winds: yew, holly, pyracantha, eleagnus, mid-height lonicera nitida. Deciduous shrubs provide colour come spring, summer and autumn: species shrub roses, buddleia beloved of butterflies, and the semi-evergreen berberis and cotoneaster. How about grapes, a fig or thornless blackberry on a warm sunny wall?
If the wall or fence is not yours, you may not fasten plant supports to it; you’ll either have to erect your own posts or a series of free-standing frames. Pots and wigwams can be used to grow a range of crops and decorative plants: fruit trees on dwarfing stock, runner beans, climbing roses, sweet peas, honeysuckle; train pumpkins or squash upwards rather than letting them trail along the ground. Temporary measures can be used this summer; prepare the ground for any long-term fixtures and plant bare-rooted shrubs and trees come the late Autumn. Above all, enjoy your garden or plot right to its very edge. But whatever you erect or plant, please consider your neighbours; what you do should afford them pleasure, not angst.