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The year the herbaceous border flourished

To show how the border progressed: in spring it was a riot of colour, although patches of bare earth showed through:
Herbaceous border Spring 2015
Note the stunted bird of paradise plant to the right: found pot-bound in a nursery on the old railway track in Gisr El-Suez Street, Heliopolis, it was rescued and has since taken to its new home. Now, it is truly flying.

By late summer, the border had come into its own. Hibiscus plants topped the hedge, the bougainvillea was in overdrive, and jasmine cascaded down the hedge perfuming the garden by day and night – just as we planned.

Even now, in mid-winter, the growth is luxuriant, and the bottle brush tree is snugly surrounded by friends from around the world: hibiscus, roses, Arabian jasmine, plumbago, pinks, and canna.
Herbaceous border 1.16
One curious reason for the astonishing growth: I finally twigged that the story spun by the Engineer and the gardeners, that the hugely overgrown branches of Indian laurels forming the hedge belonged not to us but to our neighbours, was not true. Whenever they told me this, of course it meant: no need for us to cut it. An inspection (nothing sophisticated – just shoving my head through the laurels, among a shower of dust and dried leaves) showed that the offending branches were all ours. Oh boy!

So: for a couple of weeks in June I worked as a lumberjack from 6 to 9 in the morning (before the heat really bore down) to fell the overgrown sections. It was the hardest job I’ve ever done in any garden, but it was worth every speck in the eye, every bruise, and every crick in the shoulders. This, I think, is the reason why the herbaceous border took off in 2015.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. The border looks great. I think cutting back the laurels probably cut out a lot of competition for your plants for food and water. Do you get a lot of bees attracted to your bottle brush? My husband planted ours to attract them. Amelia

    January 5, 2016
    • Great to hear from you again, Amelia. I keep trimming the laurels but the roots are a different story. They get everywhere. I don’t know how attractive the bottle brush will be to the bees as we haven’t yet had any flowers – it was planted only last April, and we await this year’s blooms to see what happens. At the moment, the bees’ top favourites are the flowering rocket in the raised beds and the Egyptian basil (stronger and darker than Italian sweet basil). The basil grows to an enormous size; I’ll post a photo of one bush in the next few days. The bees are partial to rose, hibiscus and nasturtium, in addition to rosemary and borage when the flowers appear. I think they like the stronger stuff!

      January 9, 2016
      • The flowering rocket and Egyptian basil sound intriguing!

        January 9, 2016

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