Last weekend an old friend came to stay. We talked about garden design and his question was "don't you have too much choice?". My firm principle is to work with what is there. Most of my customers have large country gardens which may have gone awry. Beneath the quick revenge that nature takes, there are bound to be some good bones. To get to the brass tacks, there is the planting and this was what the “choice” referred to. The strictures are always there and these are serious limiting factors. Soil, amount of sunlight, the effect wanted from the new planting. That cuts it down to what will work in the given site. The plants must be happy, should not be invasive or throw seeds with profligate abandon. They need to perform well and look really good and give the right mood to the garden. There will always be knotty patches which cause much brain wracking. I’m going to tell you about a few problem areas in our garden. The first is a thirsty place in front of a boundary hedge of Lonicera nitida. Avoid a hedge like this if you can. It grows which rampant ferocity and that is the dilemma. Easy enough to plant the metre wide bed with iris, eryngiums, alliums and Onopordum acanthium which thrive in the sun drenched soil. But then you have to get in and cut the hedge and trample all over the place. I am puzzled still over the correct solution. (see image above) The second is a no man’s land in front of the tool shed planted this weekend with Alchemilla erythropoda and Epimedium versicolor Sulpheruem. Please may they spread, smother out weed seedlings and allow me to walk through them to get round to the far end of the shed. Fingers crossed. Third one for this post is a strange wrangle. My neighbours decided to knock down the wall between our gardens. Hence the temporary high vis fencing. It is obvious that we shall have to put some sort of fence up. Pondering this one for the autumn, we have filled the bed with giant perennials; Thalicturm Elin, Ferula communis, Peucedanum verticillare and angelica. The loss of the wall has given them all sunlight and us an aspect of a sweep of gardens tumbling down the hill to the church. How to maintain the jungle aspect without reducing the light? Gardening is one big puzzle. It is about dealing with problems that are provided and finding the right plants to do the job. Choice? I wish.