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I thought I’d say a bit about my cutting garden, as it’s this year’s project and very much at the front of my mind just now.

I’ve carved out a more-or-less square plot, about 19ft x 19ft, on the far side of my greenhouse where it’s pretty sunny most of the day. It’s overshadowed by a large goat willow, but not too badly, and I’m in the process of raising the willow’s crown so it doesn’t cast too much shadow.

The design is quite simple: a 2ft bed around three sides of the square (the fourth is for my greenhouse and coldframe), with two 4’6″ wide beds across the middle. It’ll all be enclosed in 1″ x 4″ pressure-treated timber to define the beds and make maintenance easier. There are also 30″ paths around the beds for access.

The area was previously a herb garden (a bit ott since I had it in mind once upon a time to set up a herb nursery – then realised how much work was involved). Result is I need to dig out large amounts of lemon balm, chives and lovage before I can plant. The good news there, though, is that the soil is in good heart as it’s already been dug over and improved once.

So far I’ve got lavender and Rosa gallica officinalis, also known as Apothecary’s Rose, along one long side, for drying as pot pourri; the short side will be for perennials for cutting – so far a clump of asters dug up from the main herbaceous border, but I’ll be adding bulbs (daffs and tulips), a statice (great for drying) and whatever else I can find. I’ve added a Chimonanthes praecox (wintersweet) in the corner – again rescued from imminent suffocation in the big herbaceous border – thinking I’ll cut branches if ever it gets around to flowering (they’re notoriously slow to settle). Along the front edge will be dahlias, chrysanths and any other late-season perennials I can think of.

In the centre beds, so far there are only sweetpeas climbing up rustic hazel poles: but my antirrhinums are chomping at the bit in the coldframe waiting to be planted out, and I’ve got plenty more coming on to join them there. It just needs me to keep up with them by digging out a home, and we’ll be raring to go!

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