Island Garden Border Tour

An Island Bed was already dug in the house lawn when I arrived at Mooseys in the spring of 1994. My fondest memory is rather silly - this was my first ever weeding weekend in my new garden. Aargh! Little did I know...

This garden is situated on a gentle sloping lawn, and is very visible from the house. So naturally there needs to be something interesting to look at all year round. You'll find specimen trees, spring shrubs, summer roses, and those spiky Phormiums that my garden can't do without. A small collection of Lilac shrubs adds a touch of class to the furtherest corner. Not that a curved Island Bed can, stricly speaking, have a corner...

There's a newer garden area nearby called The Shrubbery, which you can also have fun exploring. Paths wiggle through my collection of easy-care evergreen shrubs - the contrast of leaf textures is really beautiful. A gentle word of warning - you might meet a couple of flamboyantly theatrical garden gnomes posing on a tree stump. Best to ignore them...

Introducing The Island BedIntroducing The Island Bed...
The Island Bed is a roughly circular border in the middle of the house lawn. Early days saw it planted with rough trees and a huge pampas grass - red dahlias popped up here, there, and everywhere in the gaps...
Memorial Cherry BlossomMemorial Cherry Blossom...
In 2014 I planted a memorial tree for Little Mac, our dearly departed black and white cat. Cat's Memorial Row in the orchard was a bit full, so her tree was planted in the Island Bed. It's a Prunus subhirtella, an autumn-winter flowering cherry.
AlstroemeriaAlstroemeria...
The Island Bed is host to two of the prettiest and possibly most invasive flowering perennials. They are both Alstroemerias. Normally I don't appreciate plants which cover the ground so well - I like to be in control!
Top of the Island BedTop of the Island Bed...
The Island Bed has quite a settled history at Mooseys. It is possibly the part of the garden where the fewest changes have taken place - so far! This is the view from above, looking down to the house.
Front of the Island BedFront of the Island Bed...
It's difficult when showing photographs of an Island Bed to get any sense of position. Each 'side' blends into the next, obviously, when the edges are curved. The most common view of the Moosey Island Bed is from the house patio, looking at the Choisya shrub.
Side of The Island BedSide of The Island Bed...
Island beds look totally different from different viewpoints - this is the general idea! My Island Bed looks at its best when viewed side-on, standing on the (hopefully green) house lawn. It's hard to pick which is the prettier season - spring or autumn
Yellow Spiky DahliaYellow Spiky Dahlia...
The Island Bed should be renamed the Dahlia Bed - at least in the heat of mid-summer. Many original plain red dahlias are flowering by this time, as well as this bright yellow spiky flowered variety.
Flowering ChoisyaFlowering Choisya...
Two shiny green-leafed Choisya shrubs dominate the Island Bed. Some years they'll flower in autumn as well as spring, and I've taken many basal cuttings from them to grow new shrubs.
Garden Gnomes in the ShrubberyGarden Gnomes in the Shrubbery...
Oh joy, oh bliss! My two new vintage garden gnomes have arrived in the post - packaged snugly in lots of environmentally unfriendly plastic padding. But they're here, all parts intact, eager to join my ever-expanding garden gnome collection.
Rustic Sandy CourtyardRustic Sandy Courtyard...
Hidden in my new Shrubbery is a small sunken rectangular courtyard, complete with two home-made recycled-timber benches. It's a wonderful spot for winter sunshine, with expansive views of lawns and gardens.
Old Fashioned Rose GardenOld Fashioned Rose Garden...
I am the proud owner of at least twenty-six new roses - many of them the old fashioned varieties. I've even got some species varieties, and I've planted most of them together in the Shrubbery. It was a great excuse to finally expand my garden into the Ram Paddock...
Lilac SensationLilac Sensation...
In 2009, on a late spring holiday in Ontario, Canada, I very much enjoyed seeing Lilacs in bloom. My favourite, a hybrid called Sensation, was photographed in a private garden near Toronto. Great news - I've found one in a local nursery, and planted it in the Island Bed.
The New ShrubberyThe New Shrubbery...
The Shrubbery - note the upper case letters - is a totally new garden area at Mooseys. The space was created by default when a huge pine tree blew down in a storm. Shrubs, roses, paths, a stone retaining wall, even a little sunken courtyard - The Shrubbery has it all!
River Stone WallRiver Stone Wall...
The new stone retaining wall is in its infancy, but is already a favourite garden feature, visible from inside the house. It retains an area of newly built-up ground which I call The Shrubbery.
Island Bed TulipsIsland Bed Tulips...
Many of my tulips have ended up being planted in the Island Bed, for better or for worse. They are not often replaced - one year you see them, the next year you don't.
Spring TreasuresSpring Treasures...
The Island Bed has lots of colourful treasures which flower through winter into spring. I particularly enjoy this plant pairing - a large patch of Hellebores, nestling in behind a frothy purple-flowering shrub, name unknown.
Nandina & LupinNandina & Lupin...
I planted a compact growing Nandina shrub on the corner of the Island Bed for colour and texture contrast. This picture shows the Nandina with a flowery Lupin neighbour. Its foliage is tinged with red in autumn.
Standard RosesStandard Roses...
The Island Bed houses a small collection of standard roses. The Fairy Rose (a pretty pink) was growing as a weeping standard by the grass archway when I first came to Mooseys. Over the years I've added other standard roses to the border's edge. There's always room for one more...
Dogwood TreeDogwood Tree...
Some years ago, towards the back of the Island Bed I planted a Cornus, or Dogwood Tree. In my gardener's imagination I could see it instantly filling in the newly extended garden with its beautifully variegated leaves.
Red PenstemonRed Penstemon...
Up the back of the Island Bed I grow colourful perennials like this red flowering Penstemon. There are lots of red dahlias nearby, and a bright green flax.
Mugsy in the GrassMugsy in the Grass...
This is the littlest cat Mugsy in the grass by the Island Bed. She rarely ventures further from the house than this.
Sally Holmes RosesSally Holmes Roses...
Two Sally Holmes roses grow in the middle of the Island Bed, behind the Choisya shrub. They fill the middle of the garden every summer with their beautiful light-coloured flowers.
Pink and Cream FlaxPink and Cream Flax...
No part of the Moosey garden is without a warm coloured New Zealand flax, or Phormium. This plant brightens up the winter days, as the Head Gardener sits inside gazing at her sleeping garden.
Red and Yellow Dahlia FlowersRed and Yellow Dahlia Flowers...
Dahlias have always lived quietly (and multiplied madly) in the Island Bed. When I get an excess I throw the rejects over the grass to the edge of the Hump, the next, nearest garden. So in late summer plenty of flowers fill the borders with colour - red, yellow, and all the shades in between.
Viburnum RhytidophyllumViburnum Rhytidophyllum...
There is a large Viburnum Rhytidophyllum just through the grass gap, on the far side of the Island Bed. It has creamy white flowers in spring, and the leaves are distinctly corrugated. Unfortunately I'm allergic to the flowers - they make me sneeze.
The Island BedThe Island Bed's Early Days...
In the very early days of my garden the Island Bed was smaller. A huge Pampas Grass held pride of place in the middle. I associate the plumes of Cortaderia, or Pampas Grass, with my childhood. We used to strap them to the backs of our bicycles like huge standards.
Umbrella Grass Seed HeadsUmbrella Grass Seed Heads...
This grass has interesting seedheads, and so far has not caused any problems by self-seeding. I grow it in the Island Bed as a filler plant, and cut it back in winter.
Silver Lace CinerariaSilver Lace Cineraria...
The leaf of the silver cineraria is delicately formed. This is an easily grown short-lived perennial, and should be more popular, even if only for its foliage. The daisy-like flowers in summer are very bright yellow - they can spring a bit of a surprise!