Take stock and plan for change

Supporting role: Above, Clematis montana and below, wild honeysuckle are the only things keeping my fence upright.
Supporting role: Above, Clematis montana and below, wild honeysuckle are the only things keeping my fence upright.
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NOW summer’s in full swing, it’s the best time to decide what you need from your garden.

You’re most likely to be outside if it’s fine, so you can see what plants aren’t performing; where there’s gaps; where your hard landscaping isn’t working, etc.

Plant-wise, it’s best to plan ahead for permanence.

The spring catalogues are already out – bulbs are being delivered from mid-August!

By all means, fill gaps with quick-growing annuals, but take stock, order what you want in advance and plant up when things are dormant.

Make notes of gaps in flowering (the end of May/beginning of June and August can be difficult patches) and choose plants accordingly.

But remember, it’s not a race. Looking after a garden is an unending task and change happens, for whatever reason. Embrace it and get planning.

For instance, I’ve just had the driveway redone. It’s now got a wavy brick path through it and the rest is covered with gravel, that wonder material.

It’s cheap, plant-friendly, porous (so rainwater can naturally percolate through to the water table) and you don’t need planning permission for a large area, unlike if you’re going to use an impermeable surface (concrete, for instance).

I’ve been waiting for years to see the back of our patchwork of paving slabs and concrete. And instead of knackered pots by the boundary fence, a low retaining wall has been built so I can get shot of them.

Of course, once you get one job done, it just shows up the bit next to it.

Fancy new drive next to a rotten fence. It didn’t take the Brain of Britain to work out how awful it looks.

I’d put off replacing it (6ftx6ft heavy trellis panels) because it’s covered in Clematis montana, honeysuckle, everlasting sweet pea and buddleia. To be fair, they’re holding the thing up, as rotten bits are dropping off and it won’t see another winter, leaning at that angle.

I’ll wait until October, when the plants have finished flowering, as they’ll have to get the chop.

Good opportunity for a lovely climbing, scented English rose or two...