Inspired by all the lovely plants at Cottesbrooke Hall, I've been creating a new flower bed at the end of our garden in front of a row of camellias and rhododendrons. These look spectacular in spring, but by June the area is crying out for more colour.
The solution? Lay a path of old bricks immediately in front of them, where dense shade meant nothing grew, then dig a new bed.
There's a colour scheme of sorts, moving from pinks, mauves and purples on the left, through to reds, then yellows and whites. It's a real mixture of plants, many of which were donated by friends or grown to raise money for charity by the convenor of our local garden club, Margaret. A fatsia japonica has pride of place in the centre (thanks for this, Heidi), while a dogwood (from Elizabeth) should provide an elegant contrast to a small hydrangea rescued from an overcrowded bed nearby. There's also a ceanothus which had become rootbound in a neighbour's balcony pot. In between are lupins, acanthus spinosus (Bear's breeches), erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', salvia, achillea, phlox, campanula, scabiosa and a tradescantia, 'Sweet Kate', which had not been doing well against an east-facing fence. I've surrounded the bed with canes and criss-crossed it with black cotton, in a bid to keep out the foxes, and now am waiting to see what will survive. There are plenty of gaps to be filled, but for these I'll try my hand at propagation, using advice from Carol Klein's brilliant new book, "Grow Your Own Garden" (BBC Books). She makes it look so easy!