The White (weed) Bed

Mr P is king of both the mixed and herbaceous borders chez nous, so I see it as a victory to acquire any border room at all, on which to impose my preferred style of planting. Early on I insisted on having an area which was solely to be planted with white flowering plants or those with sympathetic foliage. When the pond was dug, I was allotted half of the adjoining borders for my white or moon garden. I took much joy in the initial planting of this area, diligently visiting the famous white garden at Sissinghurst for research purposes. I also visited many of our favourite nurseries, searching out the whitest variety of each species in order to achieve the desired look. When it was finally planted up, it took a few years for it to mature but it was with pride that I surveyed the explosion of frothy loveliness brought about by the timely flowering of crambe cordifolia, as we opened our garden to the public. This cloud of perfection hovered triumphantly over my much admired white border and at that precise moment, all was well with the world. 

However, my joy was short lived as life was about to change. Having both spent our lives being employed by others, within a year we were running two businesses and all gardening activities suddenly had to be compressed into the two days of each weekend. No more summer evenings in the garden. Things started to take on a slightly ragged air. It was around this time that Mr P started to refer to the white border as ‘the weed bed’ and admittedly, during this period, it was all I could do to stay on top of the vegetable garden and the greenhouse during the growing season. Inevitably, the weeding of the white border fell behind and at it’s worst, it got to a point where it was taking me two days to work from one end to the other.

Well, fellow white garden devotees, it is with great fanfare that I can announce the triumphal re-emergence of the bed formally known as ‘weed’. The slowing of work prior to lockdown and then the enforced garden leave for much of the country enabled a fingertip weeding of the entire area in early spring, followed by the planting up of any gaps with home grown ammi majus and ammi visnaga, along with purchases from the recently re-opened nurseries. In addition, the unseasonably hot weather seemed to put paid to the march of the viburnum beetle, leaving the showy pom poms of viburnum opulus unscathed and looking gorgeous against the blue skies. Another result was the fantastic blooms of the white peony which were undamaged by rain for the first time in living memory. 

It is now, as we approach midsummer that I can smugly report that the hot bed (Mr P’s neighbouring border) is now somewhat weedier than mine – although I must concede that he is back at work and once again, short on time. Funnily enough he seems to have stopped mentioning the weeds in the white bed!

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