Gardeners Tips for Growing Shrubs and Plants in Herbaceous Borders
The traditional herbaceous border, placed for protection against a warm wall, fence or hedge, has been for many years the only accepted way of growing a display of these plants. But such borders have their limitations, because they are not always as showy as people like for much of the year. Because of this mixed borders consisting of small trees, shrubs and all kinds of other herbaceous plants are taking their place — and very successfully too!
Another drawback to the traditional border is that it needs staking and continual maintenance. There are many perennials which need no staking and more and more are being continually introduced. To be seen at their glorious best the taller and more sappy of perennials need shelter from the wind but the tougher types can be grown in island beds which fit prettily into informal garden schemes. This also is a good method to use if you have no protective backing such as a wall or fence. In an island bed, the plants should be grouped so that one can look through the bed from some point to the other side. There are many ground covering and dwarf growing plants for the edges and a selection of plants rising to the taller kinds in the centre or to one side, according to the plans of the rest of the garden, will give depth as well as expanse of colour.
The stakes of taller plants are bound to show in the early stages, but before you decide on the method of support, visualise the plant in its flowering stage and arrange to have the top of the stakes just hidden by the topand leaves. Too short a support sometimes causes the stems to bend over at the point where it ends, so beware!
For plants that have several stems rising from ground level or for those that begin branching fairly near the ground, the best supports are pea sticks, the twiggy kind. Push these round the plants, only two or three inches away from it, letting the twigs intermingle. The plant’s stems will grow up between them and be supported by them. They will in time hide the twigs completely. Cut the twigs to the correct height for the plant. Use short top pieces for dwarfer plants.
For tall and large flowering dahlias you need a really strong support. Garden stores sell specialstakes which should be driven deep into the ground. Alternatively, use three stout bamboos grouped round the plant. Use strong twine to confine the plant within them or tie the stems to a single stake.
You may need to make a higher tie later in the season. Never pull the string so tight round the plants that it makes a kink in the stems. Give them room to breathe and expand.
A so-called perennial border can be supplemented by half-hardy annuals such as dahlias which must be lifted and their tubers stored in a frost-proof place in winter, after which they may be planted in following years. Careful planning is needed. Quite often in such borders, and even in catalogues listing perennials are included plants which strictly are shrubs. These include lavender, ceratostigma, thymes, which are doubly pleasant because they help to clothe the border prettily when it is not in flower, since they are also evergreen.
Bulbs,are also perennials and those that do not need lifting too frequently and which are large enough may also be included in the border. These include montbretias, Hyacinthus candicans and as well as the spring blooming kinds.
The smaller and the narrower your border, the shorter will be the season because your selection will be restricted. Ideally you need a border about five feet wide for then you will have enough room to allow plants coming into season to hide those just fading. If you begin with certain spring plants, such as lovely lupins, you can follow these with stately delphiniums, paeonies and so on to the full range of phloxes and other summer flowers and on into the Michaelmas daisies, golden rod and hardyof autumn.