Growing Perennials from Seed
Almost all of the ordinary border plants, although perennial in nature and usually bought as plants, can be raised quite easily from seed sown outdoors about July. The best way to sow the seed is to prepare a nursery bed by deep digging and raking the surface very fine. The seed is sown in long lines leaving about eight inches between each, so that the hoe can be freely used to keep downand break the surface during the time that the are small. Before the winter frosts arrive, the seedlings sown in this way will probably be large enough to transplant, either to permanent quarters, or to a position from 6 to 12 in. apart (according to size) in the nursery bed.
One point to remember with regard to perennial plants grown from seed is that the seedlings often vary considerably, and in many cases the majority of seedlings may be of an inferior type to the parent plants. The safest plan, therefore, is to plant the seedings out in a nursery bed until they have flowered once. Any varieties not worthwhile can be consigned to the bonfire, and the others planted out during the autumn, after they have flowered, into their permanent positions in the border.
Seedlings of perennial plants can be raised equally well from seed sown under glass in the early part of the year, where frames and greenhouses are available.
Such popular plants as Japanese, , and Lupins are being more and more frequently raised from seed by amateur gardeners. The seedlings have the attraction of uncertainty; it is impossible to state beforehand whether the plants will be useless, or whether some rare and remarkable new variety will be discovered. In addition, plants so raised are always extra strong and vigorous, and, of course, a large stock of plants can be obtained more cheaply in this way than in any other.
It is perhaps more appropriate to include the real mixed borders in this section, than amongst either shrubs or, for though the mixed border, the commonest feature of the , can include a number of shrubs as well as annuals of all kinds. are usually most plentiful in its planting schemes. It is a place in which even half-hardy bedding plants can find a home.
The greatest advantage of the mixed border is perhaps that it allows a certain amount of permanent planting of shrubs to form a backbone. These are beautiful at all seasons, even in mid-winter. A group of evergreen shrubs covered with hoar frost, or splashed with snow, give line and form to the winter garden, and save it from the bare allotment-like look which it might otherwise have. It is possible, for instance, to put a series of small shrubs such as Veronicas, Pernettyas, Lavenders,, Santolina, Senecio, , and dwarf Conifers, here and there along the border, and to interplant these with . The shrubs give quite a finished appearance to the border, when the others have died down.
Little groups of bulbs, such as spring-flowering Narcissus, and Crocus, summer-flowering Gladiolas, and autumn-flowering Schizostylis, can be set amongst the perennials, and even patches of annuals, sown where they are to flower, can be used., Geraniums, and other tender plants wintered in the greenhouse can be put out, too, either to follow the spring bulbs when these are lifted, or to take the place of as they fade. In this way a mixed border can be kept full of colour all the year round.
Only one thing need concern the amateur who ventures on this feature. Certain of the lime-hating shrubs can only be used if the soil of the border is naturally lime-free and kept so. In this case it would be impossible to grow most of the ordinary border flowers in close association, though a mixed border of saywith and dwarf Heaths could be arranged. In most cases, however, it will be better to exclude lime-haters from the mixed border, and only to introduce those shrubs and flowers which will grow healthily in ordinary garden soil