Dog-Path Garden

 The apricot roses in this photo were specially bred for New Zealand Dressage.
roses and flaxes - from the archives

New borders in my garden are often self-developing, like the Dog-Path gardens over the water race. When the energy level of the gardener-digger drops, the new border is temporarily finished. A few weekends later with some spare roses needing a home the digging is happily resumed.

There are many designer suggestions about creating new looks for different areas of the garden - good advice if one has the discipline and money to stick to a planting plan.

The Plan Unfolds on Paper

My original ideas for plantings over the water race were to follow a seriously created paper plan. Roses were only allowed in one border (and were only to be Rugosas), natives in another, rhododendrons in another, and so on. There were to be elegant sweeping lawns (somehow, the 24 huge gum tree stumps were ignored in a designing frenzy). The mower would mow the grass right down to the water's edge, (ignoring the gorse stumps from the old hedge). The paper plans incorporated balance (trees either side by the garage) and continuity (grass areas on both sides integrated as one, with a watery version of a ha-ha ditch in between).

Problems with Tree Stumps and Lawns

 This view is from the other side of the water race.
the dog-path - from the archives

Many things went wrong. First, the lawnmower man (Stephen) killed the watery ha-ha concept (which was my proudest design feature). On no account would he mow down to the water's edge. He suggested I plant a garden on the sloping bank. As a consolation he offered to remove some of the gum tree stumps, but offered his professional opinion that it would take years of rotting before lawn could grow over them. My image of elegant sweeping lawns faded.

In a fit of pique I threw the plans out, and went on a plant-poking-in rampage. The native border was invaded by all sorts of bargain bin plants. I dug along the water's edge between this border and Middle Border and filled the sloping soil with reject hebes. Middle Border was supposed to become a rhododendron garden, but became rather full with other bits and pieces. It grew larger, as more and more of the gum tree stumps were incorporated by digging, and more and more bargain plants of whatever type was on offer were plonked in. There was absolutely no discipline - this garden was out of control.

 Unless the Plank moves, this garden is finished.
the end of the dog-path garden

The Arrival of the Roses

Then I bought (very cheaply) rather a lot of bargain roses. I had pushed the dog-path with its low stone retaining wall further and further along the water race, and suddenly had a vision of dripping rose blooms above flowing water.

A tall red flax was transplanted to the water's edge, forcing the path to gently curve. I continued digging, and the first roses were moved in - a Gertrude Jekyll and two other unknown David Austin roses. I built a rough seat in the stones, and transplanted seedlings of yellow pansies. The Dog-Path garden, beautifully filled with roses, was born.

When Will It End?

The Dog-Path garden hasn't stopped expanding yet. Who knows if it will stay just as a rose garden? All I know is that the rose blooms and the gently racing water are a perfect picture, infilled with the white feathery flowers of some bargain Gauras. And when gardens develop themselves, who can possibly know when they're finished?

Tour the Dog-Path Gardens

To see the latest photographs, you can take a tour of the Dog-Path Gardens. I don't think they can expand much more!