Tag Archives: Ilex aquifolium

My Garden – Planting Phase 1 – and a load of balls!

So finally, it’s looking more like a garden! What’s that I hear? Mutterings of, “About flipping time too” ?! Yeah well, if it was all done at once there’d be nothing to look forward to would there? Not to mention an excuse for my Twitter gardening buddies to prod me encouragingly about ‘how much better it will look when the plants are in’ – yes, you know who you are!

The first phase of the planting is in and I’ve pretty much achieved what I wanted to get done this year. By ‘first phase’, I mean that I decided to approach the planting by starting with the permanent structure of evergreens and other shrubs.

Of course, this highly sensible approach should have included doing a planting plan on paper but somehow I just never got round to it. Instead I opted for the really organised and well known system of making plant lists in my head and on various, now dog-eared, bits of paper. Obviously, when it comes to clients’ designs, I am totally organised and the bits of paper get put into a file (wink).

The ‘feel’ and style I’m going for is cool (in the colour sense) romantic and sophisticated – whether I achieve it or not remains to be seen! I settled on a limited colour palette of mainly white and purple flowers (in spring and early summer) with some injection of yellows and oranges (in late summer, autumn and winter). I also decided to restrict the shrub foliage to dark green, silver and purple with any variegation also being white. In addition, I’m trying to achieve the right balance between formal and informal. And as we don’t actually sit in the garden all that much I wanted to include lots of evergreens so it’ll look good all year round when viewed from our windows. I always build in around a third evergreen, but our garden will be fifty per cent, or more, evergreen.

So, starting with the formal, I planted sixteen box topiary balls on the angled corners of the four beds and was really pleased with how they looked…






Sadly this was not to last and turned into a ‘bit of a saga’.  The box was fine for a few weeks but then started shedding leaves like nobody’s business and ended up looking like this…

Poorly box… all say ‘ahhhh’

Sincere apologies for the distressing close-up







I suspected it was the dreaded ‘B’ disease (whispers… “blight”) and kicked myself for not quarantining the plants for longer before planting them.  Whether it was or wasn’t blight, it clearly wasn’t good! My supplier was very apologetic, gave me a refund and sent someone to collect the poor plants. So the box is deceased, it is no more, it is ex-box!

On the plus side this sorry episode actually did me, or rather my design, a favour.  I decided my nerves couldn’t stand the worry of more box balls (although I have included box hedging elsewhere) so decided to replace them with Taxus balls. However as yew is slower growing, darker green, more solid looking and a lot more painful on the pocket, I decided to buy only eight slightly larger specimens and to plant them in lines either side of the path.  This has the effect of leading the eye along the central axis…

Central axis - now with Taxus balls

To complete the formal elements, I’ve planted half-standard Ilex aquifilium ‘Argentea Marginata’ in the two stone planters at the bottom of the garden framing the seating area, a column of yew (Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’) at the centre of each bed, currently babies, but they’ll grow… eventually! And… box hedging around the central birdbath feature – fingers crossed eh?!













There are already 67 plants in the garden – deceptive isn’t it!

Well that’s an overview of where I’m up to. I’m quite pleased with it so far and am really enjoying creating it.  I was going to go into the rest of what I’ve planted in more detail but think that’s best left for another blog when I’ve got my Latin head on – plus it’s time for tea!