The wisteria bed – mass planting with box

DSC02208We have Carla Coulson to thank for this beautiful picture of the house. And the wisteria bed which is in front.

I doubt I have ever stood in the exact spot she was in June 2013 and taken such care over a photograph.

Usually I am driving up to the house with a carload of groceries or luggage or guests. And rarely stop and see the garden from this angle.

Well, every spring we do marvel at the white wisteria that drapes itself so prettily in this corner. I had seven shots from every year we have lived here to choose from.

box and bulbsWhat you don’t see is the maintenance that has to take place for the rest of the year after the month of flowering. This thug will take over the roof if it could.

box balls in snowAnd some years it does.  In the months leading up to the magazine photo shoot I was pruning like mad in that desperate way you get when everything has to be perfect and you are talking acres of garden to get right.

I gave my husband some telescopic loppers as a Christmas present. And recall to my shame that I commandeered a France Telecom cherry picking machine to come and prune the trendrils that had taken hold on the high walls and tiles.

artur and boxThe poor man only came to fix our electricity pole which had been struck by lightning. But I think he was too scared of the mad glint in my eye to refuse my pleading request to get up in the cab and pull out whippy wisteria stalks.

These days we try and prune before they get right out of hand.

2011 wisteria bed in progressNow I’m working backwards gently here. Lulling you into the impression that I have an eye for design and can come up with some attractive solutions to a shaded, east facing, dry as can be garden bed.

In truth, I messed about for years before I lit upon the solution. You can see it here. Mass planting of box balls, lots of mulch and plenty of bulbs for spring.

Now settle down and have a laugh at my pathetic attempts before this happy solution. (I’m going to shrink them to thumbnail size too, just in case you are feeling whoozy from my hideous attempts.)

24 under wisteria Oct 08Problem one. The bed. It was crying out for a proper wall the second I tried to plant anything. I sound like a broken record every time I write that. But it’s true.

Walls work. Badly made walls are an eyesore. What was I thinking?

Wisteria bed mulchedI tried planting nasturtiums the first year. The second I had a go at red hot pokers (I can never spell kniphofia).

The only thing I did right was to landscape the sloping land just to the left of the bed; weed it thoroughly and put down gravel.  It blended well with the stones.

And I’ll just leave it there.  Lessons learned. Build walls, mulch the area, think of a local plant that is unfussy and can take drought and shade. Plant in mass, and hope no one has to endure your design mistakes.