The Oval Bed

Finally I can show you what has been keeping me busy during lockdown, and keeping me sane… 😜  I think!

In the middle of winter I started planning my next garden bed. The long-term plan is to have several beds like islands on the south side of the house, with grasses being the linking feature. This latest bed is intended to bring the garden – and the birds – closer to the house. The centre will have a stone birdbath. I hope I will find something suitable from a local stonemason once things return to normal.

This was the view in winter, photographed from the warm living room, when only the edges had been marked out…

And then before planting began…

Don‘t worry, the obelsiks have been straightened out…and fixed with steel rods deep in the ground. Let‘s hope they withstand our strong winds on this exposed hill! They will look lopsided at certain angles anyway as the whole garden slopes slightly.

This is what it looked like after the first planting session on Good Friday:

Waiting for plant orders to arrive meant constant weeding was necessary in between. But finally, last week, the newly sown grass leading to the centre was up, and most of my planting was complete (for now!). So I spent several hours spreading wood chippings as mulch to suppress the weeds and retain moisture…

There are about 80 plants in there, some of them divisions from other flower beds, but don‘t they just disappear! To give you an idea of size, the tallest obelisk is about 2 metres, the smallest 1.2 metres.

I put the sprinkler on it afterwards and am very impressed with the moisture retention so far. I also like the appearance – softer than gravel, but distinctively different to the other beds.

I have chosen Dianthus and Phlox for ground cover, Stipa tenuissima and Miscanthus as grasses, and several Clematis on the obelisks. Two are flowering already…

Nubia (which should flower all summer)

And the Duchesse of Edinburgh, just unfurlinge her petals…

I also planted Centranthus ruber, Verbena bonariensis and Gaura for height, Echinacea, Salvia and Scabiosa for the pollinators, and added my favourite Viburnum – V. carlesii ‘Aurora’.

Scabiosa Butterfly Blue

All these plants should be eventually be happy with our dry well-drained soil and south-west-facing position. The wind may be a problem. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it! 😉 After all, my word of the year is HOPE, and I hope to gradually find plants that are tough enough for our hot summers, cold winters and strong winds!

Helianthemum ‘Ben Hope’ (chosen for the name!)

Now I need to plant out my annuals grown from seed into all the beds – sunflowers and tithonia for the sunshine bed, calendula for the herb bed and gaura, cosmos and cleome in the Oval Bed. So glad I have had this project (and such good weather for it) to keep me physically and mentally occupied over the past two months. 😃

Have you had any particular projects or done anything different in your garden this spring?



36 thoughts on “The Oval Bed

  1. You have been working hard! I’m sure in just one or two years your new bed will look wonderful. I am overhauling my rockery. Plants that had grown far too big were removed and now I’m hoping to start replanting soon, but must get rid of the weeds first, they won’t stop growing!

    • Hi Pauline. The weeds are a problem aren’t they – as soon as they get a bit of space they take over! Good luck with the rockery project. 😃

    • Hi March. It wasn‘t easy finding sturdy obelisks, especially during lockdown! I had one delivered and it was in about a million pieces to screw together… now that would never have survived our strong winds so it had to be returned! A rose garden sounds like a good project too. My next plan will involve peonies though so roses will have to wait! 😃

    • I wanted to call it the keyhole bed but it is a bit of a mouthful. Still, thank you for recognizing the shape I intended Eliza. 😃

  2. I had to laugh at your delineation of the border in the snow! By the time the weather and the ground were more conducive to carrying out your plans you must have been so excited and eager to get on with it! The end result shows how easy it is to cram too many plants into a border to try and get it filled ASAP, underestimating how much plants fill out given time and a bit of patience – your 80 plants make little impact now but even in a season will be bringing you much pleasure. What an exciting time for you – and it will be lovely for us to watch your border’s progress too

    • Yes, I was raring to go before the ground was workable! My Man of Many Talents tilled it for me, which was such a great help. But keeping it weed-free while planting was tough! When I look at photos of my Sunshine Bed last spring and compare it to this year I know I must be restrained and not cram too much in at first! 😃

      • I am learning this lesson too from the bold border I emptied and put the plants in pots – they are all doing better without the competition and will now get the chance to establish better

  3. What a nice large bed to grow lots of new things. I’m sure it is massive to hold 80 new plants that look so tiny and lost within it. But the broad expanse of the land surrounding it, makes the bed look tiny too. It will be fun to watch it grow and fill in over time. I am always inpatient with a new garden, waiting for it to mature. You have lots of land there and it looks so peaceful with nothing but fields, hills, and trees in sight.

    • Hi Cindy. Yes, patience is certainly useful as a gardener, but I know what you mean! We so have a lovely spot, albeit rather exposed. But I love the view and don‘t want to spoil it with planting that would enclose the garden a bit. 😃

  4. Your oval bed delimited in the snow is great !! You have been wonderful with the 80 plants plus the ones you add seed, I love it. I love the clematis obelisks like Nubia and the Duchess of Edinburgh. The pastures to attract the birds and the source for them to drink is a love of Nature that I share with you: I love it. In a couple of years the bed will be thick and divine. Now I love it. Congratulations on your new bed and its wonderful flowers. Keep you and your Man of Many Talents safe. Happy weekend. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xx

    • Thank you Margarita! It is lovely to hear such encouragement. Yes, I am sure it will fill out in a year or two. I must be patient! 😃

  5. This is going to be beautiful, Cathy. I love how you drew it out in the snow. I really like the design, with an entrance and an enclosure. Your planting sounds lovely. I really like the ‘Nubia’ clematis.
    We made a new veg bed in the middle of our lawn, for our extra plants we couldn’t fit into the allotment. Stevie and are learning to share the space in the garden, and both had noticed how nice it was to see our planting intermingling. It adds a new element of interest for both of us.

    • Thank you Ali. Mingling veg and flowers is a great idea and some vegetables can be so pretty and decorative anyway. Good to be able to share your love of gardening that way too. 😃

  6. I perked up at the mention of gaura; as you know, several species of it are native in central Texas. You may have heard that botanists have done away with the genus Gaura, moving all of its species into Oenothera.

    • Now you mention it, yes. I had heard about the name change but they are still sold under the name Gaura here and I am set in my ways! 😉 So this would be Oenothera lindheimerii. I hope the evening primroses are still called Oenothera or I shall get really confused! It does make sense when looking at the German common names though: my Gaura is a Prachtkerze and Evening Primrose is a Nachtkerze. 😉

      • Not being familiar with the word Pracht, I looked it up and learned it means ‘splendor’. In checking the etymology I found it developed from Old High German braht, which makes me suspect a relationship to English bright.

        I also learned that Kerze means ‘candle’. The erect growth habit of gauras fits that meaning but I don’t understand how it’s appropriate for the low-growing evening primroses. In any case, Kerze has an interesting etymology in Wiktionary: “From Middle High German Kerze, from Old High German kerza, charza, from either Latin cērāta (“covered with wax”) or Latin charta (“sheet of papyrus”, in this case referring to layers of birch bark from which candles were made). The latter explanation is typically preferred, though the former is semantically more suggestive.”

  7. It is like a flowery crop circle!
    Nothing so grand here. We just developed a new vegetable garden while unable to work, but now do not have time for it.

  8. Your new bed is off to a fine start, and I like your selection of plants. You seem very organized. If you were in Chicago people would assume the bed is in the shape of a C as tribute to the Chicago Bears, our football team. Then you would need lots of orange flowers edged in blue.

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