Dahlias and chrysanthemums are often painstakingly grown by experienced gardeners. For the majority of gardeners, both experienced and beginner alike, the herbaceous border is frequently the largest expanse of flowers in the garden. Obviously the proper care of these groups of plants is most important. Thorough soil preparation is vital, and enrichment with organic matter and fertilizer before planting is essential. Other golden rules are: Plant properly: Remember to add moist peat to the soil.
- Avoid overcrowding: An impenetrable jungle of plants is unattractive and a prime target for powdery mildew and other diseases. The answer is to plant at the recommended distance and to divide the clumps every three years; peonies are an exception-they should be left undisturbed.
Divide in early summer
Divide in autumn
Divide in March
- Learn the art of staking. So many herbaceous borders are ruined by prominent stakes and tightly bound stems. The secret is to begin this work before it is necessary. lf the plant has many stems use twiggy branches or a ring of thin canes bound by twine. lf put into place early the subsequent growth will hide the support.
- Remove dead blooms. Early-flowering types will often produce a second flush of flowers.
- Feed properly. Use a liquid fertilizer during the growing season
- Spray with Fillip if growth is slow.
A well-made rockery is a joy, but it is not easy to achieve. Choose the site with care-alpines will not succeed under trees and good drainage is vital.
Never fill the pockets with heavy soil; use a mixture of good soil, peat and grit. Aim for a level, not sloping, soil surface between the rocks.
Remove weeds before they become a nuisance. Sprinkle chippings round the plants. Cut back plants which start to spread and look untidy: this is a vital annual job with quick-growing varieties such as aubrietia , alyssum, arabis, saponaria and cerastium.
In autumn remove the dead leaves which collect between the rocks and protect delicate specimens with small pieces of glass.
It is easy to get a fine display from top quality shop-bought bulbs, even if you have never had a garden before. Provided that you Plant at the right time and at the right depth (planting too closely to the surface can produce all leaf and no flowers) then you should obtain a colourful show. All of the difficulty is involved in making sure that you continue to have a fine display year after year.
To do so you must watch the following points: The leaves of spring bulbs must be yellowed and withered before they are removed. Lift hyacinths and large-flowering tulips at this stage every year. Keep the largest bulbs for next year's display and plant the smaller ones in an out-of-the-way spot, so that they can grow for a couple of seasons to become top-sized bulbs.
Don't lift daffodils, crocuses etc. every year. When daffodils start to produce excessive leaf and just a few flowers lift them after the foliage has withered then treat as hyacinths and tulips above. Never store or plant unsound bulbs.
Good-quality seedlings are vital, so buy and grow with care. Avoid planting in shady conditions. Under trees there are additional problems -food shortage, water shortage and honeydew dripping from the leaves. The all-too-common result is foliage blackened by sooty mould and small flowers growing on elongated stems. lf you must grow annuals under trees choose dwarf shade-tolerant bedding plants such as begonia semperflorens. Regular dead-heading is important to prolong flowering and regular feeding is necessary to ensure a prolific display. Feed little and often: flowering plants need nitrogen to ensure active stem and leaf growth, but this nutrient should always be balanced by an equal or greater amount of potash. The best plan is to water regularly with a complete Iiquid fertilizer such as Bio Plant Food.