HERBACEOUS BORDER

A good wide strip is recommended; if ground can be allocated, 10 ft. allows a bold display and gives scope for artistic grouping. The border is called herbaceous because it should be occupied by plants which lose their leaves in winter, which are sound perennials and which are profuse in flowering, such as Michaelmas daisies, delphiniums, lupins, phlox, helianthus and a great many more as described under their own names. The greater number are increased by division, which should be done every 2 or 3 years, taking the young shoots from the outer circumference. It hardly needs to be advised that the taller plants should be at the back of the border and height graded downwards to the front, but it is effective to break the height line by an occasional tall specimen among those of lesser height. Most of these outstanding taller plants, not having the wind-break of surroundings of equal height, must be well staked with bamboo canes or deal stakes. Support can be made almost invisible by using pea-sticks. The upper part of each plant will be free because the spread of the pea-stick gives sufficient support, while not obtruding upon the sight. The same method for staking can be recommended for general use, and is particularly effective for plants of bushy, branching habit such as coreopsis, geum and gaillardia. Hazel or birch sticks are alternatives.

Gaps in herbaceous borders often occur after midsummer and can be filled by plants grown in pots for this purpose or bought from the nurseryman. Gazanias and nicotianas are good examples, as are the single or double-flowered forms of Sweet Wivelsfield, or Red Bedder, Delight and other bedding dianthus. Early-flowering chrysanthemums can also be lifted even if they are in full bloom.

The conventional, one-sided border is by no means always practicable in a small garden. The ‘midget’ border is an excellent alternative. This could be 5 ft. wide and 16 ft. long. Such a border could accommodate 120 plants in 40 groups, allowing 3 plants of each species or variety.

Due forethought as to season of flowering and harmony of colour schemes will have its reward, and it is well to bear in mind that 3 or 4 of the same kind and colour grouped together is better than scattering single plants here and there along the border.

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