Jardin champêtre borders at La petite pépinière: 2 experiments

Hello from Caunes-Minervois where Imogen and I (Kate) have been planting 2 new demonstration areas at the specialist plant nursery, La petite pépinière http://www.lapetitepepiniere.com. 1. The Dry Shade Border In part-shade at the end of Gill’s stunning, long-flowering Salvia border, this area is a cool place to sit in the summer and listen to the birds and the stream running into the Argent Double river.

Before the new border
Before the new border
The Salvias next to the new border
The Salvias next to the new border

To start, we cut out a curved shape around the Cedar (Cedrus libani) and under the 2 Flowering Ash trees (Fraxinus ornus), removed the ‘lawn’ (mown weeds) and dug out the couch grass, oxalis and other weeds.

Imogen shaping and digging over the new border
Imogen shaping and digging over the new border
Dry- and shade-tolerant plants: some from our gardens in the UK and some from La petite pépinière de Caunes
Dry- and shade-tolerant plants: some from our gardens in the UK and some from La petite pépinière de Caunes

The following plants – some of which may not cope with the extreme weather here in the Languedoc – were then planted in puddles to keep them as moist as possible while they get established:

  • Actaea simplex ‘James Compton’
  • Aster divaricartus
  • Aster umbellatus
  • Calamagrostis brachytricha
  • Danae racemosa
  • Digitalis ferruginea
  • Eupatorium ‘Atropurpureum’
  • Galanthus elwesii
  • Geranium ‘Biokova’
  • Geranium ‘Brookside’
  • Geranium macrorrhizum
  • Geranium sanguineum ‘Alba’
  • Helleborus ‘Silver Frost’
  • Helleborus corsicus
  • Leucojum aestivum
  • Liriope muscari ‘Alba’
  • Molinia ‘Transparent’
  • Nandina ‘Firepower’
  • Narcissus ‘Thalia’
  • Ruscus hypoglossum
  • Sarcococca confusa
  • Scilla siberica
  • Teucrium chamaedrys
  • Teucrium lucidrys
  • Viola hederacea        

To preserve moisture and minimise weeding, we have covered the border with a deep layer of woodchips made from prunings cut from elsewhere in the garden.

P1200238
Kate using the shredder to make mulch

We’ll keep you posted on how this border develops…   2. Mixed border for wildlife and people We are using this border to try out new design ideas for Mediterranean gardens. Already in this established demonstration garden is an ornamental grasses bed, a dry Mediterranean native bed, a Salvia bed, as well as different plant collections and tree avenues. This new area is a mixture: grasses and flowering perennials, with bulbs and succulents. We’ve kept the Ceanothus ‘Concha’ bush for height, have raked the soil to create different levels, and have mulched with river sand and stones.

Before: using a hosepipe to mark out the edge
Before: using a hosepipe to mark out the edge
A barrow full of couch grass
A barrow full of couch grass
Planting in puddles to retain the most moisture
Planting in puddles to retain the most moisture
Raked soil for different levels
Raked soil for different levels

With all the climbing up and down ladders to the river and barrowing the sand and stones, we haven’t finished this border yet! But we’re nearly there and it is being used by Redstarts and Robins already – they sit on the posts and rocks that are marking out the bulbs and smaller specimens at this early stage, and the robins are fighting over the territory. The plan is to attract insects and birds via the plants, using single flowers, different flower head forms, bright colours, high pollen, and leaving the seed heads over winter for food. Using bulbs will extend the flowering season too.

Redstart on post
Redstart on post

The plants we’re trialling in this border are: Grasses

  • Calamagrostis brachytricha
  • Eragrostis elliottii
  • Festuca glauca
  • Miscanthus ‘Dronning Ingrid’
  • Miscanthus ‘Malepartus’
  • Molinia ‘Transparent’
  • Muhlenbergia capillaris
  • Panicum ‘Rehbraun’
  • Sesleria nitida

Bulbs

  • Allium ‘Purple Sensation’
  • Allium caeruleum
  • Allium christophii
  • Allium spaerocephalon
  • Broadiae ‘Queen Fabiola’
  • Drimea maritima
  • Nectaroscordum siculum
  • Scilla peruviana
  • Tulipa ‘Little Beauty’
  • Tulipa turkestanica
  • Watsonia aletroides

Perennials/shrubs

  • Coreopsis ‘Cutting Gold’
  • Dianthus carthusianorum
  • Echinops tienschanicum
  • Eryngium ‘Silver Ghost’
  • Eryngium ebracteanum
  • Eryngium pandanifolium
  • Eryngium yuccifolium
  • Eupatorium ‘Atropurpureum’
  • Geranium ‘Rambling Robin’
  • Helichrysum splendidum
  • Knautia macedonica
  • Lepechinia hastata
  • Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’
  • Salvia ‘Anthony Parker’
  • Salvia ‘Caradonna’
  • Salvia scabra
  • Sedum ‘Black Beauty’
  • Sedum ‘Citrus Twist’
  • Sedum ‘El Cid’
  • Sedum ‘Joyce Henderson’
  • Sedum ‘Metrona’
  • Sedum ‘Moonlight Serenade’
  • Sedum pachyglados
  • Sedum sieboldii
Drimea maritima and the riversand mulch
Drimea maritima and the riversand mulch

We’ll add more plants, e.g. different Agastaches and Echinops, which we’re growing from seed so are too small to plant out at the moment. We’ll post photos of these 2 borders as they develop. You can also see some of our planting combinations at www.facebook.com/jardinchampetre.

 

Some views of our experimental mixed border May to June…..

 

 

P1240862

P1240859

 

Salvia 'Caradonna', allium cristophii, Coreopsis 'Mayfield Giants'
Salvia ‘Caradonna’, allium cristophii, Coreopsis ‘Mayfield Giant’

P1250244

Allium cowannii
Allium cowanii

P1250197

Annuals for interest in the first year..Ammi magus
Annuals for interest in the first year..Ammi majus
Annual - Orlaya grandiflora
Annual – Orlaya grandiflora
Annual - Nigella 'Bride'
Annual – Nigella ‘Bride’
Allium spaerocephalon
Allium spaerocephalon

P1250165

 

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6 thoughts on “Jardin champêtre borders at La petite pépinière: 2 experiments

  1. Its lovely to see this post. I’m looking fgorward to watching the progress of the experimental planting, both here, on line, and when I’m back in Caunes….in early March for pruning , and then back properly in May for my next 6 months in Caunes. I’m happy to report that Mark gave me a Bosch garden shredder for Christmas ! So….the mulching can begin. Good luck with everything. Looking forward to seeing you and the garden again soon. Janice (Whelan)

  2. Merci Kate de m’avoir conseillé de prendre des cistes pour le jardin. Je suis ravie de notre rencontre. Je passe des vacances à Mirepoix dans l’Ariège tous les ans, vous n’êtes pas si loin. Vous faites un travail remarquable dans la petite pépinière et j’aime beaucoup les associations que vous proposez. Bravo.

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