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origibal raised bed

Back in 2010, I espied a couple of old palettes in a neighbour’s front garden and thought these might make wonderful raised beds for my own front garden. I spent an afternoon deconstructing the palettes and building the beds (here’s a ‘How to’), and then filled them with a mixture of topsoil and lovely rich compost as the soil below is rather heavy clay.

original raised bedsA year later and the beds were flourishing. In fact, they’ve been wonderful spots for experimentation ever since, and I’ve loved growing heaps of salad leaves, herbs, tomatoes

Tulips in front garden

and my annual tulip display (grown in the front garden as squirrels decimate these bulbs in the back garden).

Old wooden raised bedHowever, this wood doesn’t last forever, and despite a bit of mending here and there, these beds are now well past their best and in need of replacement. The question is, what with?

Deborah Nagan I visited Deb Nagan’s very inspiring garden in Brixton in 2013 as Part of the Chelsea Fringe,
Deborah Naga's metal raised bedsand her lovely metal raised beds have always stuck in my memory. Such gorgeousness combined with such great practicality.

So where to get some metal raised beds?

Tree pit edging

In the past we’ve used Everedge to supply us with metal edging for our street tree pits,

Rsuted steel raised bedand they also have a large range of other products for raised beds and planters. Following some very helpful discussions, I plumped for two (very reasonably priced) custom-made raised beds, 20cm high in Cor-Ten Steel. This naturally rusts over time, but they also supply galvanised steel which won’t rust, and powder coated steel which can give you different colours.

Rusted steel raised bed 2I love the deliciously warm colour of the rusted steel and its rather industrial look sits well in our urban setting. Peter from Everedge has added, in the comments below, that you can also have rolled edges if you’re worried about safety, but I can’t say that this crossed my mind when I was planning the bed.

It took a little while to construct as you have to bolt various lengths and corners together, but these raised beds should last for many years to come and I’m eager to see how my red and white Arsenal tulip display will look in this rusted bed come April.

P.s. I’ve also noticed that Harrod Horticultural sell a cream 30cm high snazzy ‘Retro’ raised bed. Not rusted steel, but groovy nonetheless.

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Helmi Daffs uprightLast year, all but a few of these ‘Rijnvelds Early Sensation’ daffodils came up blind. It was only their second year, but they’d been cruelly cut down (well, mowed actually) straight after flowering the previous year and they hadn’t had the time to build up strength for future blooms.

On seeing this dismal display last February, they were liberally sprinkled with Growmore, and requests given not to mow the lawn again until all of their foliage had completely died back.

Delighted to see how well they’re flowering again (if a tad early, even for these early bloomers).

Just need to keep that mower at bay……

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Jardins Agapanthe alliumsI was completely wowed by Les Jardins Agapanthe at the beginning of June this year. Above are glorious groupings of Allium Globemaster and as the bulb planting season is (just about) still with us, I’m borrowing this idea and have ‘Globemaster’ bulbs waiting to be planted as I type.

Jardins Agapanthe alliums 2

The first thing that really hits you is that all of the gardens are mulched with an light-coloured river sand which gives you the impression that you’re not far from the beach in the South of France, (when you’re actually in Normandy, a little north of Rouen). Très Mediterranean.

Allium cemtary 3 at Jardins Agapanthe

This area looked great from every angle, and seemed like an homage to the first world war cemeteries. Magnificent!

Paving 2 at Jardins Agapanthe

As you follow the twists and turns of the pathways, through gigantic exotic plantings to more intimate shady settings, it felt like taking a masterclass in garden design. It’s ‘Jardins’ in the plural by the way, as there are 2 different gardens, created by garden designer Alexandre Thomas, surrounding two houses, with a small road dividing them. Each garden is artfully divided into a number of smaller gardens, almost like different stage sets and I absolutely loved the drama and theatricality of it all. If you’re ever in Normandy, make sure you visit!

Miscanthus+Persicaria orientalis+Asters+Calmagrostis brachytricha at Jardin Plume september 2011

P.s. And you could also visit Le Jardin Plume (above).

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