Mixed Beds and Borders

There are houses and gardens which, because of their style and layout, are most suited to a formal treatment of plants. Informal garden plants are, however, becoming increasingly popular and these allow for mixed beds and borders which are planted with a whole range of subjects — small trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, bulbs and even annuals and biennials. This type of planting is especially economic where space is limited and with skilful planning it will give the garden year-round interest.

Soil preparation is similar to that described for formal beds though with a mixed border it is seldom necessary to prepare and plant the whole area at once. Plant with a trowel at the times and distances recommended in the following list Gladioli and lilies are among the bulb: which should be bedded on sand as they will rot in moist soils.

Some subjects may need staking. Firmly secure one bamboo cane to each plant in the ground and tie the flower stem to this loosely with a soft material. The plant should be allowed some freedom of movement in the wind or it will look unnatural so take the tying material round the stake, knot it and then take it loosely round the stem, knotting it again.

Mixed Beds and Borders

Many of the summer-flowering bulbous plants are not reliably hardy. Some, like the dahlia, will have to be lifted and stored each winter, but the soil where others are growing can be covered with straw, bracken or a similar material as a protection against frost. It is better, if possible, to leave bulbs undisturbed for several years. Every third or fourth year they can then be lifted and sorted through and at allowed to complete their life cycle in order to build up food resources for the next year’s growth. The grass when eventually cut may be an unattractive brown colour but watering and feeding with a lawn fertilizer will soon bring it round.

Naturalized bulbs should be planted in drifts, not in rows or rigid clumps. The best way of achieving a good effect is to scatter handfuls of bulbs and plant them where they fall. The easiest way of planting naturalized bulbs is with a special tool known as a bulb planter. This cuts out a core of turf and soil when it is pressed into the ground and removes it intact when it is given a twist and lift. The bulb can then be placed in the hole and the core of soil and turf replaced and firmed with the feet. Small quantities of bulbs can be planted with a trowel. Where only a small area is involved the turf can be lifted, the soil improved with a dressing of bonemeal at the rate of 2 oz. to the sq. yd., the bulbs planted and the turf replaced.

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