Tips for Planting Herbaceous Plants
How to Stake Herbaceous Plants
Where stakes are required in the perennial border they should be selected and used with care, otherwise the border becomes merely unsightly. On no account should half a dozen stems from a plant be gathered to a single stake. Efficient plant supports are sold by nurserymen, but if these are not used, ordinary thin stakes reaching to the base of the flower head will be found quite satisfactory. One stake should be used to each stem. In the case of a group of half a dozen stems, three stakes placed round the clump, with a string passing from stake to stake, may be sufficient support. The essential thing to remember is that the stakes should be hidden as far as possible amongst foliage, so that they are not seen when the plant is at its best.
Certain plants such as the Carnation, which grows very long slender flower stems rising well above the foliage, need even more careful staking than the ordinary bushy. A very thin stake should be used in these cases and tied in several places as the flower stem develops. Bamboo canes are generally chosen, unless special Carnation supports are used.
Staking Large Groups
Staking in the border devoted solely to Michaelmas Daisies is perhaps a little more complex. In such a case the number of stems to each plant may not be so restricted, and some of the groups may consist of twenty or thirty stems. Half a dozen stakes round the outside of such a mass are sufficient. A strong string should be passed round the clump twice, tied to each stake as it passes. One or two stems may be left outside the string, to be secured later and so hide the stakes from view. Additional strings can be drawn taut across the clump, between opposite stakes, and these will hold the central flower stems firm enough even if rough weather occurs.
A few plants, for instance some of the Poppies, are better staked by pushing in a number of twiggy branches amongst the growing stems. It will be found that they only need this slight support at the base and the twiggy stems are hidden from view by the developing foliage and flowers, and in any case are not very unsightly.
Apart from regular staking the chief thing to be done in the perennial border during the summer is to keep the ground hoed between the plants. This prevents thecaking, and also prevents the too rapid evaporation of moisture from the soil. If bone-meal is used when the border is prepared little else will be needed in the way of fertilizer, though a general fertilizer may be of assistance.
Watch for Pests
The commonest pests in the perennial border are green-flies and frog-hoppers though other pests do appear from time to time. Watch should be kept for their appearance, and a good reliable insecticide should immediately be used and repeated as required all through the growing season. Such insecticides will of course be used only in the evening, and must be used no stronger than directed by the proprietors, otherwise they may cause damage to foliage of tender plants.
Planting for Succession
In choosing plants for the herbaceous border the succession of flowers must be kept well in mind. Early flowering perennials such an Antirrhinums, Columbines and Wallflowers start the year in the herbaceous border. They are followed in rapid succession by Peonies,, Lupins, maximum, Geums, Heleniums, , Scabious, Montbretias, Rudbeckias, Japanese Anemones, and Michaelmas Daisies. The important thing to the gardener should be the disposal of these and similar herbaceous plants in the border in such a manner that at every season from April to November, the border has colour and interest along its whole length.
Colour in the Herbaceous Border
Endless books could be and have been written on the subject of colour in the herbaceous border. Many schemes have been tried out, particularly such schemes as those which exclude one colour range and include only its complementary colours.
For instance, shades of blue, mauve, and white and often shades of pale lemon colour are chosen and clear reds and pinks are rigidly excluded. The effect is that of a “ blue “ colour scheme as the other shades, among the blues, merely serve to throw up the main colour.
Similarly an orange and red border would definitely exclude the clear blues. While such borders have a certain amount of interest, and often show a good deal of ingenuity, it is doubtful whether they are ever quite so charming and effective as the mixed colour border, or a rainbow border.
Those who do care to try special colour borders, however, might keep these points in mind: a bank of blue flowers (which, incidentally, would not be entirely blue because it would be accompanied by green leaves) looks less blue from a distance if it has no lights and shadows. The light and shade in the border is best provided by inter-planting purples, mauves, creams and whites among the blue flowers. Blue flowers must of course predominate, and in the same way any other single colour border will be enhanced by the inclusion of flowers in half shades.