Creating a herbacious border

SUMMER is just as great a time to revamp your garden by creating a herbacious border. A herbacious border is simply a grouping of herbacious plants to create a unique screening wall or just something to bring colour to your garden.

Herbaciuos plants are those plants that have underground storage structures such as bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes. These are a set of unique plants that are able to adapt to different conditions in the landscape and also able to survive dry seasons by simply losing their foliage, going into dormancy.

A border can be any size you deem fit for your setup, just make enough room to allow you to plant a wide selection of plants that will take turns to show their lustre and glamour.

It can be as long you want it but at least two metres wide and up to five long. As with any garden work of any size always put down your plan on paper.

A border can be created to have two sides and this is referred to as a double sided border. It can be viewed from both sides thus it can be used to break a long stretch of lawn. You can have two borders facing each other such as along park walkways or passage areas to other locations in the garden.

There are various effects to consider when creating a herbacious border such as colour, foliage, background and edging. Avoid contrasting colours like white and red but go for the subtle change in colour such as blues, mauve together with purple. In an all-white border go for greys and silver foliaged plants.

With foliage try experimenting as much as you can to arrive at a pleasing outlook. It is always best to situate your border against a wall or hedge to give the best effect. Choose a suitable brick edger to impede the lawn getting into the beds.

Since the border will support a number of heavy feeders, soil preparation is the next key point. Double digging would be a good idea. This is where by you dig the topsoil first up to 30cm and place this on the side.

Then dig the subsoil to the same depth. If this is poor remove it and replace with a better soil. Incorporate compost at a rate of half a wheelbarrow to 250g of compound D per square metre to both the topsoil and subsoil by halving it. Mix thoroughly and return to the bed. You can water the area and leave it to settle for a couple of days.

It is now time to plant. We will only consider a few relics here such as agapanthus africanus, aster novi-belgii (michaelmas daisy), cortaderia selloana (pampas grass), heliconia aurantiaca (lobster’s claw), kniphofia linearifolia (red hot poker), pennisetum rupelii (fountain grass), strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise), solidago canadensis (golden rod) and the likes of zantedeschia aethiopica (white arum). The selection of plants should be done with the realisation of the eventual size of the plants. Also try to select plants with different seasons in mind so that you achieve an all year round spectacular display of nature.

Regular feeding will ensure that your plants are healthy. Feed with a general fertiliser at 25g per square metre around the plants or with compost at least twice a year, forking it in. Watering should be done in a regular manor rather than in a haphazard way. Over feeding with scarce water is a recipe for disaster.

Consider watering deeply once a week. In the event you are not happy with the growth of you plants, a soil analysis would give clues as to which nutrients are lacking, correct accordingly.

Grow something unique in your garden this summer by adding a herbacious border to your garden design.
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