Tag Archives: flower borders

Planting Ideas for Colourful Autumn Borders

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Dahlia 'Ruskin marigold'

Dahlia ‘Ruskin marigold’

We’re in September; schools have started and university looms; for some people it’s a chance to take a well–earned break away from the crowds; for others it brings an opportunity to spend more time in the garden and on the garden.

The following ideas are taken from a chapter in our newly published eBook “In Your Autumn Garden with Plews Garden Design”.

“A jewel-box autumn border with contrasts of flower and foliage is easy to plant and enjoy. Why not try some of these suggestions; you may have time to put them in and enjoy this season, but if not, then why not look out for some end of season bargains and snap them up ready for next year?”

Sedum 'purple emperor'

Sedum ‘purple emperor’

Sedum telephium ‘purple emperor’ has flat heads of ruby red flowers and chocolate purple foliage. The seed heads can be left on over winter; they’re very decorative when silvered with frost.

Ceratostigma wilmottianum is the 3 foot tall shrub, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is the ground covering version. Both have rich, gentian-blue flowers and foliage which becomes redder as autumn progresses. Red and blue together on the same plant – maybe it’s a Crystal Palace Football Club fan?

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Cotinus coggygria ‘royal purple’ (‘smoke bush’) although deciduous, this bush keeps its red-purple foliage well into October; the leaves are sometimes flecked with shocking pink. Here it has yellow Solidago (Golden Rod) planted in front, which gives definition to the Solidago as it can sometimes be a bit straggly.

Cotinus coggygria ‘royal purple’ and Solidago (Golden Rod)

Cotinus coggygria ‘royal purple’ and Solidago (Golden Rod)

Dahlia ‘Ruskin marigold’ (above) is a really solid orange colour; like all dahlias it will keep flowering until the frosts blacken the foliage. Still with the red spectrum, Helianthemum ‘moorheim beauty’ has yellow/orange / bronze flowers that add depth to an autumn planting scheme (below)

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea has flat-petalled reddish pink daisy flowers which provide late season nectar for bees. For an architectural dimension Stipa gigantea (giant oats) is stunning against an autumn sky; the rustle of the grass adds sound and movement to a planting scheme.

stipa gigantea

stipa gigantea

And as a backdrop to all this floral exuberance, why not have Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)? Hopefully this has inspired you into planting an autumn border full of colourful flowers and bright foliage; we like to help! Drop us an email if you’d like to know more.

Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper

Marie Shallcross, Senior Partner, Plews Garden Design


Resolving your Gardening issues with inspirational ideas and flexible solutions

Helenium 'moorheim beauty'

Helenium ‘moorheim beauty’

 

 

 

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Weeds in the Spring Garden

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mixed-native-species-and-bee

mixed native species and bee

Eeyore, the much beloved if melancholy donkey in the Winnie the Pooh stories by A.A. Milne, says “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” So if weeds can be pretty to look at or useful, perhaps we should get to know them better before deciding if they’re plants in the wrong place or not. Many plants that are termed ‘weeds’ are native or naturalised species; they may have been bred and developed into the garden plant varieties that we covet; and have been useful in the past for medicinal or culinary purposes.

If we consider the possible uses of one common weed, which is also a native plant species you may get feel for the dilemma we have. The stinging nettle (urtica dioica) is native to Europe, North America, Asia and Africa and has a long history as a useful plant; to the extent that I would also classify it as a herb. The nettle has culinary uses – soup, salad, herbal tea; and was used as a woven fibre for cloth in the Bronze Age. In the garden it provides food for beneficial insects and is a compost activator. On the downside, nettles are perennial and spread by their root system, so can easily find their way out of that useful corner by the compost heap and into your flower borders. By this action, they have turned into a weed, as they’re now a plant in the wrong place.

stinging nettle

stinging nettle

Firstly let’s consider the lifespan of weeds, knowing the enemy is useful in getting the better of them.

Perennials are plants which live for many years; for example, bramble. They may have growth above ground all year or they may die back to an underground root system over the winter or dormant season. Perennial plants may reproduce by seed or vegetatively (by root or stem).
Bi-ennials are plants which live for two years, for example, spear thistle. In the first year the plant will grow a rosette of leaves at ground level (basal foliage clump). In the second year, the weed plant will flower, be pollinated, set seed and spread the seed, and then that individual plant will die.
Annuals are plants which live for one year only, for example, common chickweed. Each individual weed will grow from a seed, usually in spring, flower and set its own seed over the course of one year or growing season.
Ephemerals are plants which produce many generations in one year or growing season for example, groundsel. In other words these weeds do what annual weeds do but more quickly, with possibly four generations of flowering plants over the season.

dandelion seedhead in paving

dandelion seedhead in paving

So, how to deal with a weed problem? Cultural methods are a good starting point for all of these different types.

For annual and ephemeral weeds, regular hoeing or picking out whilst the plant is still small is the simplest method of keeping them in check. Left on the soil surface to wither, they can then be added to the compost heap. It is particularly important to remove them before they seed. Remember the old but very true saying: “one year’s seed is seven year’s weed”.

Catch the biennial weeds in their first year when they have foliage only, usually a clump or small mound of leaves. The same hoeing technique used for annual weeds will work for small plants. For the larger weed plants, it will be necessary to dig them out with a hand trowel.

Hand dig out perennial weeds such as dandelions to be sure of removing the deep tap root. A specialist dandelion fork can be a useful addition to your garden tool collection, particularly if dandelions have a habit of growing in your lawn a sit is less disruptive to the turf.

dandelion-and-nettle

dandelion and nettle in early spring

As for seriously difficult to eradicate perennial weed plants such as bindweed and ground elder, expect this to take a few seasons. The root systems on these go down a long way and can re-generate from a small piece. If you find that bindweed has twined around your plants, try watching our video on ‘how to remove bindweed’ .

For more tips, check out our other blogs on weeds, especially “A Weed is a plant in the wrong place” which highlights problems with two common garden plants.

bindweed, bramble and clematis

bindweed, bramble and clematis