Flower borders will transform your garden
PUBLISHED: 14:48 10 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:50 20 February 2013
Express any hidden artistic talent in a beautifully designed border or two with the help of expert Martin Fish
Martin Fish is show director at the North of England Horticultural Society, organisers of the Harrogate Flower Shows. He is a qualified horticulturist and writes for several gardening publications and broadcasts for the BBC.
Borders play an important role in the design and mood of a garden. They can help to bring everything together to make a garden complete. Its important to take into account the overall style of the garden as you make plans for the border. For example, very formal planting in an informal setting would look totally out of place.
Give some thought too to the size of the border and what you plan to plant. A small border in a large garden would be lost, whereas a very large border in a small garden looks out of scale. Ideally sketch out a few designs on paper first and then start to dig it out. Use rope or lay a hose pipe on the ground in the shape of the border to guide you as you dig.
Plants are of course the main stars of the show. Select carefully to reflect the style of border you want to create. Very often people want a border that has interest all year round and this can be achieved by planting a selection of shrubs, perennials that flower at various times of the year, plus plants grown for their attractive bark and foliage. Others opt for seasonal borders and plant a selection of plants that are at their best for a few months in spring, summer or autumn.
Soil type and the borders aspect should be carefully considered. Many plants will grow in most soils, but some do need specific types, such as rhododendrons which need an acid soil. A simple test will tell you if your soil is alkaline, neutral or acid and you can then decide what plants to grow, or rather what not to plant. The aspect is also important for some plants which thrive either in a sunny position or a shaded site.
Nowadays planting can be done more or less all year round as the majority of plants are sold in pots and are readily available from garden centres and nurseries. Autumn is however an ideal time to plant most trees, shrubs and perennials, allowing them time to establish a good root system before winter.
Make sure the ground is well prepared before planting by digging, forking or rotavating the soil. Carefully fork out any perennial weeds such as nettle, thistle, couch grass or ground elder or use a glyphosate-based weed killer. Add some organic matter into the border and a dressing of fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone at planting to help new plants to establish and grow.
Look no further than the 2012 Harrogate Autumn Flower Show and its Garden Borders Competition for ideas and inspiration. The competition gives designers, landscape gardeners and organisations the chance to design and create a garden border for public display.
Last years overall winner, Jenni Cairns created a border based on old farming and gardening implements and a lovely selection of plants with autumnal interest. Jenni is back this year to defend her title along with other designers from Yorkshire and around the country. In fact this year one of the 12 borders is being created by a young designer from Holland.
All of the borders are very different and Im sure will prove to be a popular attraction at the show which takes place on September 14th -16th at the Great Yorkshire Showground, on the edge of Harrogate. More details of the show and borders can be found at flowershow.org.uk. See you there.