Introduction to Garden Borders
No one knows which creative gardener decided to line the borders of his flower beds with plants of a different contrasting color and how many millenniums ago. Nevertheless, even unto the 20th century, any well-kept garden which you visit is going to have a number of borders and hedges placed in the garden to add style to the visual appeal.
The most important part of choosing a good border is the color scheme. Just imagine your bed is going to be made up of white daisies. You decide to border it with white chrysanthemums. That does not show much about your creativity or color sense, does it?
On the other hand, if you aim at having a border looking as natural and possible with a good color scheme and selection, and which is definitely not planted in rows, you are going to have something good-looking and unique.
Also, you need to look at the height of a plant. I remember as a child seeing a garden bed bordered with Hollyhocks. The gardener just loved the color and did not have enough of hollyhocks to make up a whole bed. So she just planted the hollyhock plants as a contrasting border for a flower bed of other summer and autumn flowers.
The hollyhocks were not of the dwarf variety. They grew and they grew and soon over – shadowed the flowers in the bed. So anyone looking at that bed from a distance of about 10 feet would be confronted with plenty of hollyhock flowers and foliage, and would have to do a little bit of visual searching to look at the flowers growing in the bed.
This definitely is not what you would expect a border to do. Imagine a border to be a frame for the real stuff – your choice of flowers in a well-prepared bed.
Planning a Border
Try to have five or six plants in a group, if possible and in a small border three plants are going to do very well. These groups are going to be irregular in shape. Some of them are actually going to merge into the taller group of plants behind them.
Consider these borders to be drifts. Some of these groups are going to be drifting into or even past another set of plants of a different type planted behind them.
If you have these drifts irregularly shaped, they are going to sweep round each other and prevent that artificial look in a garden bed in which gardening purists loath.
Do not make it a rule to have all the largest plants at the back and all the dwarf ones at the front. So, all right, many gardeners say that this is how classical gardens have their plants planted, but nobody says that you have to stick by the rules of gardening laid out millenniums ago, does it? You may want to keep to the idea as a general rule, but occasionally you can bring taller plants to the front so as to break up the view and prevent monotony.
Preparing Your Border
Dig the ground up well and deeply, because you are going to be planting plants which are going to expand their roots and spread during the coming years. Add a liberal dressing of well-rotted farmyard manure deep down and incorporate rotting leaves and other vegetable material and mold into the top 9 inches of soil.
Friable, or crumbly soil is excellent prepared soil before you plant your garden.
If the soil is heavy, try to lighten it by adding sand and other strawy material. If the soil is sandy, the rotted organic matter is going to help preserve the moisture.
You can plant shrubs to suit any kind of soil. Deep digging and generous manuring is going to do much to ensure that the shrubs grow freely and get established early.
Remember that you need to de – weed the bed before you begin to plan the shrubs. This means that all the perennial weeds present in the soil are going to be eliminated during this initial cultivation.
Many shrubs appreciate a dressing of lime from time to time. However, there are plants like rhododendrons, azaleas and peat loving plants which do not like lime given to them in any form. So do ask your gardener friends whether the plant which you intend to plant in your shrubbery is a lime hater or a lime lover. You may be feeding your peat bog plants more lime when they have already had enough from the soil.
General Herbaceous Borders
This border is normally made out when you plan out a scheme where you are going to have all colors, all shapes and all sizes grouped together in a fascinating manner. The plants chosen are going to bloom from late spring throughout summer until early autumn. You are also going to be using plants of varying heights blossoming at different times.
This is where you will need to look at the color. It is not a good plan to have pinks growing just next to the Reds. Nevertheless, many colors blend well with each other in the open. In Victorian times when women liked lots of Garish and clashing loud colors in their outfits, the gardens also did not bother much about color schemes. Luckily we are in the 21st century now, where we may like to wear occasional flashing and clashing colors, but we prefer our gardens more sedate!
Make up your drift by arranging one color like let us say blue drifts into a deeper colored blue and finally merges into another group of plants. These plants are taller and of another type of blue. So you have 3 different blues in one bed.
Many drifts of color planned in this way are very effective and attractive, especially if they are blooming at the same time.
Great splashes of color are much more effective, rather than having little spots here and there. Also remember to have plenty of scented flowers in your garden. Verbena, Peony and Monarda are some sweetly scented examples. These are going to add a pleasant perfume to their surroundings.
Using Bulbs in Your Border
Just imagine a spring without any bulbs flowering in the wilderness or in your garden. Thanks to the amazing variety of bulbs available to you easily. You do not have to spend lots of money to get an attractive display of flowers throughout the year, especially in plants which grow wild.
Selecting the right bulbs is done by using heavy and solid bulbs from your nursery. They should be free from mildew and blemish. Make sure that the tips are undamaged and that the thin outer skins or the “tunics” are reasonably intact. This care has to be taken when you are choosing tulips.
Those bulbs, which look skinned may have been handled roughly. Such bulbs may probably do well in a garden, but they are not going to grow so well indoors.
This book has given you plenty of information and knowledge about herbaceous borders which are going to add color, style and distinction to your garden beds.
There are also some lists of plants which are commonly planted in the garden beds to make up borders, given in this book. This list is not extensive, but it gives you a general idea of different plants, their colors, when they bloom and the type of soil in which they flourish. So you can look at the different color combinations and plan a border which is going to start blooming in the spring and keep giving you plenty of satisfaction throughout the summer and the autumn.
So get your gardening tools out, and enjoy the fresh air and the sun.
Live Long and Prosper!