THE ROSEMARY BORDERS 2: A FORMAL VISTA

This post follows on a post from the earliest days of my blog in late August, which you will find here.   It tells how I first planned the borders and how I feel about the results three years on. Let’s take a closer look at the thinking behind the design now. Three distance shots from the arboretum over more than 16 years give ‘the lay of the land’.

Six months after the house was completed, this shot from spring 1990 shows how Phineas, the foreman and a keen gardener, dealt with the vague terraces from the days when this was a potato land by turning the steep slopes between terraces into beds. In the foreground the young azaleas work hard at making a show. Across the dam the young Pin Oaks can be seen against a berm of browning pine branches, packed there after the trimming of the trees in the background. All of them have since gone. Those on the right mark the present Anniversary Garden.

February 2005 and the Anniversary Garden is taking shape, Alfred’s Arches have become a feature and what is to become the Rosemary Terrace, levelled when we had to have a bulldozer on sight some two years earlier, already has a markedly different feel to the lawns above and below it. The entrance to the Rosemary Terrace from the path was built and the large Italian jar on the opposite end was in place, out of frame to the right.

January 2007 and the Upper Rosemary Terrace is filling out, whilst the Lower Rosemary Terrace is solid with scatterpack annuals. The staircase is visible hard against the right-hand gum tree. Between the trees the bed of coloured-leaved cannas looks as good as it has ever done.

In the early days of planning the gardens along the axis from the front door I was concerned with how the lawned gardens on one’s left as you came down would differ from one another. With some imagination it was possible to see that the second lawn, being somewhat longer and considerably narrower, could be turned into a long vista towards a focal point. My dad bought into the idea and after I installed the Italian pot at the end of the vista, he decided a wall needed to be built, echoing the one below the house. I protested, rather half-heartedly, that the money could be spent more effectively elsewhere in the garden. He won the day, and I am eternally grateful, for this rather non-descript transitional area has become the most effective part of the entire garden, and gives us the most joy from the house.

Monty and Taubie playing on the Rosemary Terrace in March 2007, with the Italian pot which forms the focal point in the background. The Rosemary hedge is growing nicely.

The Italian pot never looked better than it did in February 2007. Note how the dark background necessitates lime green planting.

The garden got its name quite early on in my planning: I intended to mask the slopes above and below the terrace with two Rosemary hedges. The lower hedge has happened, successfully grown from cuttings planted in situ and thinned out later. The upper hedge, once the wall was built, became a rhythmic punctuation with clipped balls of Rosemary. Humph. They were planted, but never clipped. On my endless TTD list, “clip rosemary balls” hardly ever features. I would  like clipped balls along the way… but I don’t think Rosemary lends itself to such close clipping, and so this becomes one of the refinements I dream of… oneday, when the garden is a tourist attraction… oneday, when I am rich… oneday when I start looking for things to keep me busy…

The Abelia ‘Francis Mason’ squares around the pot have grown too tall and leggy since this shot was taken. There is too much shade for them to grow vigorously and fill out after clipping. The conifer has died of neglect – regular watering of pots is a habit I only succeeded in teaching my gardener who works in this area BECAUSE it had died. I am thinking of the next step, and seriously considering zebra grass, both in the pot and to replace the abelia. Any comments or ideas?

Looking in the opposite direction, with the bottom of the stairs on the right.

If one looks in the opposite direction, one sees the pots that flank the entrance to the Rosemary Terrace from the path on the axis from the front door. They were my 50th birthday present from my parents, and I treasure them! Getting the hedges level instead of following the contour is one of the challenges of 2009 we never got around to facing. To the left of the hedge Pride of India is in full flower. (Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, and actually from China!) It combines spectacularly with the mass of cosmos in the Lower Rosemary Border, an effect I can easily repeat and really ought to!  Above the hedge there is another tree in flower which is also sometimes known as Pride of India. It is Koelreuteria paniculata or the Golden-rain-tree, also from China.  The hedge we grew from cuttings of an evergreen viburnum bought years ago, I suspect Viburnum tinus; it makes an excellent hedge in my climate, dense, clothed to the ground and not needing too much cutting.

The pots at the entrance are also planted with Rosemary.

In Part 3 I will look at the planting in these two gardens. Prepare for a colour assault for Christmas, as I post collages of annuals from the Lower Rosemary Border!

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7 thoughts on “THE ROSEMARY BORDERS 2: A FORMAL VISTA

    • Thanks, Deborah, and the same to you. Must admit, I enjoyed putting together the progression… must do more like it!

  1. Rosemary lends itself well to many uses. Your gardens are the better for it, even if you never got around to clipped balls. Me, neither.

    I always wondered if the little pots of rosemary pruned like evergreen trees available here at Christmas were planted in someone’s garden, or just let die.

    • Rosemary Christmas trees! An interesting idea, wonder if that’s the way to go with my thousands of cuttings… fact is though that it is summer holidays in SA, not dreary mid-winter. “The tree” is something in plastic or perhaps afro-environmentalist put up for the sake of the kids. No fuss about decorations.

  2. Pingback: THE ROSEMARY BORDERS PART 3: THE LOWER BORDER IN JAN 2007 « Sequoia Gardens Blog

  3. Pingback: MORE ABOUT CANNAS « Sequoia Gardens Blog

  4. Pingback: HOORAH FOR HYDRANGEAS part 1 « Sequoia Gardens Blog

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