The border that veg must not cross, and a growing interest in ornamentals.

Ailsa and I have completed negotiations, and this is the border in which vegetables may not cross. They can go as wide as the garden, but no closer to the house than the concrete plinth in front of the greenhouse.

This gives me roughly a third of the garden to play with, but I’m still finding myself tempted to creep over the border. However, I’m not looking to hide secret vegetables in the borders. No – for the first time in my life I find myself wanting to try ornamental gardening as well.

The Warning Signs of Ornamental Interest
The signs of this have been there for a few months now. I’ve been spotting plants whilst on trips away and rushing home to try and identify them. We spent a couple days on Lundy Island recently, and I adored all the Thrift that was flowering there. I wanted to grow some in my garden, and thought this must be some kind of rare, island dwelling plant that I must search high and low to source.

I wasn’t at all upset to discover that it’s a very common plant, and that my nan’s got loads in her garden that I can take cuttings from. In fact, managing to identify Thrift from a book felt like a minor success as well as a gentle nod that I was developing an interest in flowers.

I then spent some time hunting around my mum’s garden, asking questions about different plants and working out what I could nick. Mum showed me how she had been potting up heather cuttings, and this ‘flowers for free’ idea increased my interest further.

The final indicator came yesterday. We’ve had a small wall knocked down at work, and I asked if I could take some of the bricks to make a path down the middle of my veg patch. I text my mum and asked her whether she thought this would be a waste of space, to which she replied ‘do you really think you need it?’.

Getting Creative
Of course I don’t need a path, I thought. Then it dawned on me. I’m suddenly getting all creative and arty farty. I looked back on what I’d done in the garden since we moved in: a pointy brick border from bricks that were laying around behind the shed and a herb patch which I’d tried to make attractive and functional using lumps of limestone that I’d also found in the garden.

I’d been spending time furrowing my brow, talking with mum about what plants would look good in my borders, trying my best to be inventive with old bits of slab, spending more time in the ornamental section of my local nursery and agonising about the angles of the limestone.

I’ve also been adding more flower blogs to my google reader. I’ve not been commenting as frankly I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I’m learning slowly.

Two Sides of a Personality
I guess this is where the border comes in. It seems to represent two entirely different sides of the human personality. On one side meets the needs of the resourceful and functional part of the brain, with (hopefully!) lots of useful edibles to sustain my new family. I’ve been researching square feet gardening, which also plays on the neat, organised desires of my brain with its meticulous planning and well-ordered sections.

At the other end of the garden and spectrum, is this new found interest in ornamental gardening, which seems to be serving the creative part of the brain. ‘Pop that in there, ooh, I like the look of that plant, maybe I’ll put a path here’, that sort of thing. No rules or plans, just a rough idea in my head that I work to until I see something else I like or find another piece of junk that I’d like to incorporate somehow.

With the blank canvas of my new garden, another new adventure is opening up. I have no idea where to start, but that’s all part of the fun, especially with the shorter nights giving me justification to sit on the sofa reading books.

4 thoughts on “The border that veg must not cross, and a growing interest in ornamentals.”

  1. I think this is you developing into a more rounded gardener and maybe because of the new garden and space and potential that hadn’t existed before.

    Ornamentals offer you new challenges. You need more patience if you want to propagate things, grow them from seed. Things like thrift are easy from seed but you need to provide them with the right soil. Not all ornamentals like the good fertile soil veg do. I think that is why I prefer ornamentals, for me they offer more challenges and have made me explore history, literature, science, geography.

    I hope you enjoy your new experiments – if you would like some ornamental seeds just thought

  2. Oh I love the sound of going to Lundy. It looks a really beautiful place.

    I’m actually going a bit the other way. After years of loving ornamentals I got my allotment and now I would say the productive side has taken over. I like the element of orderliness at my plot and it seems to have coped with the weather this year better than my garden which looks soggy and a bit forlorn.

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    Helen – thank you for that. I definitely think its because of the new space that now exists.

    Interesting what you say about different soils etc – I’ve been growing more herbs, and have only just read that they don’t like well manured soil, preferring compost.

    WW – would definitely recommend Lundy, its beautiful. We stayed for a couple of nights for our 1st wedding anniversary. Ferry crossing can be interesting though!

    Alan – thanks for having me! This year has been a really bad one in the UK, it would certainly have been good to have another focus to ease the sting. For me, I feel like I’m working the plot down for the season already.

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