Starting a Garden from Scratch – Planning Flower Displays
Planning for Seasonal Displays of Flowers
Various types of flower displays can be made up of:
- Annual Borders
- Bedding Plants (Spring)
- Bedding Plants (Summer)
- Bulbs and Corms
- Herbaceous Borders
As far as the actual display is concerned, Annual borders, that is where you sow the seed direct where plants are to flower, give colour from June to September, with the peak in July and August. Spring bedding plants provide colour in April and May; Summer bedding in June, July and August, with the latest subjects like bedding continuing until September. Bulbs and corms provide spring and summer flowers, whilst the herbaceous border, with careful planning, can give plants in flower from April to September with, usually, a peak in July.
It may not be possible to plan for all of these types of display, and you may even have to compromise, and have a mixed border, that is, one made up of, and spring and summer bedding plants, with a few bulbs as well.
Keeping Costs Down
There are several factors that can be borne in mind, which help to provide an inexpensive display of flowers. The cheapest form of flower border is made with thewhich can be sown direct where they are to flower.
Raising yours own bedding plants is also a means of economising, as is the production of summer bedding plants, or even some of them, where you have a heated green house. Manycan be raised from seed, and fullest possible use should be made of this aspect, especially if you are starting a garden from scratch, as there are many suitable subjects.
Remember that the newer the variety, the more expensive it will be to buy. If herbaceous plants are being purchased, select the more common, less expensive sorts to begin with. Another method of saving money is to buy a nucleus of herbaceous plants in autumn, plant them up in a border or plot by themselves, grow them on for one year, or even two, then divide them, thus obtaining two, three, or more times the original number. This delays the planting of the herbaceous border properly but, in the meantime, the area concerned can be sown with annuals, or utilised for bedding plants.
If you only buy a few plants, another method of economy is to plant them at twice the normal distance apart, to allow for their being lifted and divided later. For the first season the gaps can be planted with bedding plants, or annuals.
If you can obtain a few plants here and there, from friends, so much the better, but I am assuming that few may be available from such sources and that the garden has to be entirely stocked out of your own pocket.
Seed can be saved from many annual flowers, especially the hardy subjects sown direct. This is especially applicable where a batch of mixed colours of the same subject is being grown. In general, you should save seed from the best plants. Pick off the seed pods or seed heads under dry conditions, and finish ripening off in a dry, cool, airy place. When the seed can be shaken out readily, store this too, under similar conditions, in suitably sized packets, making sure that each variety is labelled.
Some Plants for a Shaded Border
Where you have to deal with a shaded position, the choice of plants is rather restricted. A selection of suitable subjects which can be grown under these conditions could include some of the following:
For spring flowering, Polyanthus, in mixed colours can be given pride of place. Do not leave the plants too long before dividing them; if possible split up a few crowns each year after flowering. Give a 1 inch layer of, or leaf mould, between the plants each spring for best quality flowers.
Forget-me-Nots are another good plant for a shaded plot, but need to be planted each year for best results. Their blue flowers blend well with narcissi and, which give quite a good effect in a similar position.
Lily of the Valley can also be included, but make every effort to place a mulch of compost at least 1 in. thick over the crowns in early spring.
A few plants of violets can also be included on the shaded border. This is another plant that thrives where there is ample compost in the top few inches of.
To turn to herbaceous plants, Aquilegas are useful where the border does not get very much sunshine. They provide useful colour in May and June. The new hybrid varieties now available are a considerable improvement on the older types.
Another useful plant for shade, although taller than many, being about 5 ft. high, is the Digitalis or Foxglove. The Mertenensis variety is shorter however, being aft. high and a pleasing strawberry colour. Like their hedgerow cousins, which revel in a soil containing humus and leaf mould, the garden varieties should have a generous dressing of compost worked into the top few inches of soil before planting. Many Digitalis are, and seed should be sown each year in May or June to give plants for flowering the following season.
Anemone Japonica does equally well in sun or shade, and seems to thrive under most soil conditions. Once well established it should be left alone. The red variety Anemone Japonica Rubra is very attractive for September and October flowering.
A gem of a plant for the semi-shaded border is the Tibetan Poppy Meconopsis betonicifolia, var. Baileyii. Plants are raised from seed sown as soon as ripe in early autumn. The planting site should have a generous dressing of compost and leaf mould in equal parts, worked into the top 3 ins. of soil, and the plants be given a mulch each spring of equal parts of coarse grit and leaf mould. The sky blue flowers in July, are in a class apart. Do not allow the flowers to develop until more than one rosette of leaves has formed. Although the foliage is rather large, a useful spring flowering subject for a shaded position, is Bergenia cordifolia. The variety purpurea, which is carmine purple, and 2 ft. high, can be recommended.
Pulmonaria is another shade-loving plant, which flowers in the spring. It does well on most soils and the variety P. Montana is useful, with its bright salmon red flowers in March and April. It grows 15 ins. high.
Paeonies are a must for the shaded border where their bold, colourful blooms in June and July are an asset.