Routine Work on an Established Border

Hoe the border over regularly. Stake the plants early. Use the pea sticks as already advised pushed well in among the , plants so that as they grow the sticks are covered up. Use bamboos only to stake tall plants such as delphiniums, and the height of the stake should be 50 to 100 mm (a few inches) less than the height of the plant. The stakes should always follow the same lines as the plant according to their shape. Try not to use more than three bamboos to a plant, pushed in, say, at an angle of 60 degrees, tying green cotton twist or twill in between them to surround the plants. Such material does not show as obviously as does tarred string or raffia. It is made specially for the purpose.

Some plants flag badly in hot weather in light land. The tip here is to place empty flower pots sunk into the ground behind the plants and these may be filled up with water from time to time. The taller plants such as delphiniums and the bigger flowering plants such as peeonies appreciate feeds of liquid manure, which can be bought in bottles. Use it in accordance with the instructions on the label. Top dressings of compost should be given in May or early in June. These are known as mulches. They should be put on to a depth of 25 to 50 mm (1 to 2 in). Medium grade sedge peat can be used instead. Don’t forget to feed the plants that are to bloom twice in the season – catmint, lupins, delphiniums for instance. This feeding should be done immediately after they have been cut down for the first time. Some plants, especially phlox, tend to send up rather weedy growth at the beginning of the year. If this is cut back, or cut out, it allows later growth to come up more strongly.

In the autumn, cut the flowering stems down to within : 225 mm (9 in) of the ground. Clear away all the old leaves and stems, the pea sticks, bamboos and apply lime over and around the plants that need it, particularly the scabious and pyrethrum. Add at the same time powdery composted vegetable refuse or composted old manure at one bucketful per square metre if the worms have pulled some of the original mulch into the soil. Some perennials, particularly the Michaelmas daisies and the Chrysanthemum maximum, need dividing every other year. In the ordinary way the whole border will be lifted and replanted at the end of seven years, though gardeners who are energetic make up their minds to replant every five years.

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