The ‘Garden Room’ border

In permaculture edges are regarded as valuable spaces, having the properties of the two areas they border.  Most of my growing spaces could be regarded as edges, but in particular those round the house.  All the way round the sides and back are narrow borders into which I have crammed many different edible polycultures.  I thought I would do a series of posts about these small but interesting growing spaces, starting with the border I call the ‘Garden Room’ border.  It takes its name from the extension on the property which created a narrow margin along the edge. Before that the area was the site of my first polyculture in this garden in 2013.

First polyculture in the Border Garden, 2013

At the front end this border is nearly solid stone and we had to ask our builder to get the bird feeder in the incredibly hard ground.  Fennel has seeded from nearby and is starting to break the ground up a bit.  The soil here is just deep enough for snowdrops and crocus in the spring.  Towards the back the soil gets deeper, fortunately!

This border has never been planned and has generally been used to deposit plants that needed a home where there was nowhere else for them; plus of course what nature has landed here!  Between these two sources there is now a wide variety of edible and ornamental plants.  The edibles as they occur from front to back are:

  • fennel (herb)
  • chives
  • salsify
  • wild rocket
  • Japanese wineberry
  • apple
  • mint
  • kai lan
  • marjoram
  • three cornered leek
  • angelica
  • sweet cicely
  • garlic
  • Daubenton’s kale
  • Wild kale
  • Caucasian spinach
  • leaf beet (just sown)
  • Trail of Tears beans (just sown)
  • unknown bean (just sown)

The flowering plants include:

  • hollyhock
  • roses
  • buddleia
  • scabious
  • honesty
  • perennial sweet pea
  • greater celandine
  • stichwort

Here are a few images taken recently

Chives and stichwort (wild flower)

We were able to reposition a bench at the newly created patio area to the front of the border which gives a lovely place to sit and view the garden.

Garden room edge April 2017

Garden room edge April 2017 (from back to front)

Garden Room Border May 2017 (from front to back)

I was so taken with this fan trained apple tree at our local nursery last winter that it came home with me.  This (characteristically) was the only place that really suited it in the garden and I decided not to fix it to the fence but just to leave it on the frame it is already on.  I plan to keep it quite small.  It is planted with a perennial sweet pea (lathyrus latifolius) and apple mint below (coming up through the twig ‘mulch’ at the base).  I generally plant up my fruit trees with accompanying nitrogen fixers and herbs, sometimes onions, but not here (yet).

Apple, Red Devil

Three cornered leeks had self sown at the back end of the border from the nearby hedge.  They first appeared last summer and have grown up to flower now, this picture was last month when they were a bit smaller.

Three cornered leeks coming through plus fennel, vetch and others

Every garden has its place for putting ‘stuff’ and mine is at the back end of this border.  Also here is an area I use for taking cuttings, although I put most of my cuttings elsewhere actually, this is intended to be a bit safer for them.  The hollyhocks are showing by the fence and to the right of them, too small to see as yet, is the Caucasian spinach.

Garden Room border – the ‘business end’

There is wild kale cutting and a Daubenton’s kale cutting in the ‘box’, both of which have growin like mad in the last month.

Daubenton’s kale ‘cutting’

I was very heartened on reviewing this small area at just how many edible and floral plants are in here.  One of my maxims is ‘edibles’ everywhere’ and I think this illustrates that this is not difficult to achieve.

About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in Borderland Garden, forest garden development, Perennial Vegetables, Permaculture, Polycultures and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The ‘Garden Room’ border

  1. Carole says:

    I am always astonished by how many different plants you manage to include without them looking overcrowded at all! It just shows that you don’t need that much space – which is reassuring 🙂


    • Anni Kelsey says:

      I am finding that plants like to snuggle up close to each other most of the time, it goes against what might be anticipated but works. I use daily to plant things close because I didn’t have much room and now I just do it as a matter of course, don’t ever worry about spacings. Other plants set seed and grow very close and until one really starts to impinge on another that I value or need more I let them get on with it. This year I planted seeds under other plants so they would come up through them. I put aubretia and similar bedding plants beneath newly planted step over fruit trees and sowed vetch, peas, field beans (i.e. nitrogen fixers) beneath. They are coming up now and all looks good. Will write a blog post about it in due course (currently on holiday in France). I always think about the amount of life and growth that nature sustains in a large oak or ash or beech tree and how you can get two trees growing very close, that makes me confident to allow much smaller plants to grow close (among other reasons).


  2. Pingback: The ‘Garden Room’ border — Anni’s perennial veggies | iSustainability Project

  3. skyeent says:

    This must be a pretty shady and sheltered border Anni – Which way is North? I’m impressed with the variety in a small space!


    • Anni Kelsey says:

      Yes, I was impressed when I counted the different plants! The house faces south so north is at the back of that border where the storage container is. It gets some morning sun on sunny days at this time of year.

      Liked by 1 person

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