Plants for Bedding Out

Bedding may be described as a system of planting certain types of plants that will give bloom at a certain time of the year or to cover a certain period. Sometimes shrubs are used – sometimes small trees – other times hardy and half hardy annualsbiennials – perennials – greenhouse plants and, of course, bulbs.

Bedding can either be of a permanent nature, i.e. the shrubs or perennials like Paeonies, or of a temporary character, like Wallflowers or sub-tropical plants which cannot be planted till June and cannot last longer than the end of September.

The permanent type costs more to start with but less afterwards. The temporary type entails less initial expense – but takes far more labour.

Bedding out was far more popular in Victorian days because it had a certain formality about it and also because it ensured colour for long periods – in those days time and cost of labour were of little consequence! They went in for carpet bedding – intricate geometric design – with special plants which were kept dwarf by being pinched back every week. Today bedding is usually of one colour alone – shown up perhaps by foliage plants.

Formal bedding is suited particularly to (a) borders against the house (b) beds or borders on terraces (c) beds in lawns, (d) beds in the front garden, (e) beds in a formal garden with crazy paving around, (f) beds in a small garden in towns and cities.


When raking to make the bed level, work in a good fish manure at 105 to 140 g/m2 (3 to 4 oz per sq yd) or use ‘meat and bone meal’ instead. Most good fish manures are prepared with a little extra potash added and so it is not necessary to add this ‘ingredient’. In the case of the meat and bone meal it is advisable to use sulphate of potash at 70 g/m2 (2 oz per sq yd) in addition, if available, or finely divided wood ashes at about 280 g/m2 {\ lb per sq yd) instead.

The beds must be well trodden to get them firm, and it may be convenient to do this before the levelling. In the case of lumpy soil it is advisable to rake, tread and rake again. Plant in showery weather if possible. In a droughty period put an overhead sprinkler in position so that with the tap turned on and the whirling spray, and the necessary hose, you can ensure that the beds get a really good soaking with water applied in its fine aerated state. See that the plants that you are going to move are watered the day before, and always transplant them with a good ball of soil to their roots if you can.

Plant the outside rows of the bed first in the corners and then work towards the middle. The distances vary from plant to plant but normally speaking 300 mm (1 ft) square is ideal with perhaps bulbs at 150 mm (6 in) in between. Rake the ground level afterwards and after that all that will be necessary is occasional hoeing, though in the case of plants set out in October it may be necessary to firm them in again after a bad frost in November or December. In the case of the summer bedding this will not be necessary.

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