Herbaceous Plants for the Garden Border
When the perennial border is to be planted, it is best to set out labels where each group of plants is to be. The groups should vary in size, and should err on the side of large masses rather than small. You get a much finer effect from half a dozen plants of one kind together than from the same number of plants dotted here and there along the border between other kinds.
As a rough guide, I should say put in three plants of such things as Oriental Poppies and Geums in a group, or put six Pansies or Wallflowers in a group. Evencan be planted in groups of three in the very wide border, though in the small narrow border single plants of these very large kinds can be used. The labels should be prepared before planting operations are begun, and when the border has been dug, manured and dressed with lime, and is ready for planting, the labels should be set out in exactly the positions where the groups of plants are to go. This avoids the possible necessity for rearranging the plants after half of them have been put in.
An important point is to plant firmly. There are more losses of perennial flowers due to loose planting than to any other factor. Plant roots can only take up food in solution. If they are not well supplied withmoisture, therefore, the plants will starve. A plant which is set loosely in soil may have its roots in dry air pockets, and suffer in consequence. As each plant is put in, therefore, the soil should be firmly pressed down over the roots. This precaution also prevents the tops of the plants from being swayed in the wind, and so loosening the roots still more in the soil.
Another common fault is to allow the plant roots to be doubled up under the plant. Holes should always be made with a trowel or spade, deep and wide enough to take the roots spread out to their fullest extent, as far as possible horizontally.
Fine soil should be thrown over the roots in the case of large plants and then the remainder of the soil pressed firmly into position. Should frosts occur after planting it is worthwhile to go round the perennial border and to press back into the soil any plants that have been lifted up by the action of frost.
Autumn the Best Planting Season
The season for planting varies a little according to the type of plant, but generally speaking the earlier in autumn that a new perennial border can be planted, the more likely it is to succeed. In a very smoky town district, however, autumn planting is not perhaps so good as spring planting. In any case, March is a fairly satisfactory month for planting almost any type of perennial, and so long as the plants do not suffer from drought during the first few weeks March planting will always be successful.
are plants of which the roots are perennial, that is to say they last for several years, while the flower stems are of annual duration only. A seedling perennial plant frequently sends up only a single flower spike, but during the second season of its growth it may send up half a dozen similar spikes, and so go on increasing from year to year. There comes a time, however, when these spikes get too crowded, as they rise from the single root-stock, to allow of full development, and if many stems are allowed to grow up in this manner they lose their symmetry. That is one reason why it is so important to thin out the growing stems of such plants as Michaelmas Daisies, Delphiniums, , etc. If you want to experiment in this direction, try growing a single stem of Michaelmas Daisy from one root instead of allowing other stems to develop, and compare the beauty of growth and the arrangement of the flowers round the stem with that seen on stems growing in a crowded clump.
Exhibition growers invariably reduce the number of stems of a plant to one in order to achieve good results. The owner of an ordinary mixed border may not want to be quite so drastic, but it is a fact that he will get a better show of flowers from two or three stems, than from a dozen on each plant. The time to remove the unwanted stems is of course as soon as they show up, as the longer they remain on the plant the more nourishment they are taking. It will be found that the removal of unwanted stems is, in fact, a practice that makes staking easier and in some cases unnecessary. The remaining, encouraged, stems grow stouter and sturdier, and if the garden is not exposed to high winds, they may require no stakes at all.