This is a small square bed which houses one of our bird baths. It is next to the house and adjoins the magnolia shade garden. When we fill the bird bath, or swill it out, water usually also runs over the side of the bath keeping the soil below well watered. The birds love splashing about in the water so together we create a damp micro-climate. As the magnolia doesn’t spread over this area it has more light in summer than under the magnolia tree.
Being next to the house window we have tried to ensure that it looks attractive for as much of the year as possible but it is at its best when the spring bulbs are flowering.
At the front of the bird bath is an evergreen hardy fern - Blechnum spicant. It’s a lovely fern providing a touch of green all year round. Two other athyrium ferns are planted either side of the bird bath. Three astilbes, which also enjoy damp conditions, are planted in this bed but only one survives.
A mass of miniature daffodils, small flowered crocuses and species tulips provide plenty of colour from early spring. Once these fade we have tried bedding plants to fill the gap.
Initially I used impatiens but found that if the soil became too damp these plants didn’t thrive and so mimulus replaced them but they didn't thrive either. A perfect solution is still to be found.
Behind the bird bath is a small metal obelisk which at one time housed an automatic watering system. A drip pipe connected to an automatic timer was fastened to this so that when we were out all day the bird bath was replenished at regular intervals. This is really surplus to requirements now but, as the birds had got used to perching on it whilst waiting a turn in the bath, it has been left in place. Maybe I’ll try to find a low growing climber to grow up it.
This year 2017 I am planning to try some compact, bushy nasturtiums for summer bedding, so we will see how they fare.