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Planning a small border for the whole year.


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  • Planning a small border for the whole year.

    Hi all
    I have a small border in our patio (approx 50cm x 4m) and have been struggling over the past couple of years to make a plan that will have year round interest.
    I planted a load of bulbs last winter - tulips, grape hyacinths, daffodils, snowdrops etc. While that had a great show in spring, once the flowers died back I was left with an unattractive bed for a month or more while the leaves died back on the bulbs. I could have cut them back, but my understanding is if I want the bulbs to flower the following year I need to leave them die back.
    I then planted some annuals and sunflowers that all got murdered by slugs and snails...
    I then planted some perennials (echinacea, Gerber, sedum, leucanthemum, Osteospermum) that were in the local shop, but some have not done well as I planted too late in the summer (my fault I know!)

    So I am now planning long term what to do with the bed, almost starting at a blank slate.

    My main question is how can I use the bulbs without having to wait for them to die back. I suppose I could simply treat them as annuals but it seems a real waste.
    I'll also look to try some more perennials in the autumn, perhaps some lavender.
    The other issue I have is that I can find almost no advice on planting a border as small as mine, most articles and videos talk about borders where you can use larger shrubs for winter interns, but I dont have a large enough border.

    Sorry if this has come across as a ramble, but a bit grumpy that things haven't worked out so far this year!

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  • #2
    you could plant them in Bulb baskets so when they've stopped flowering you lift those out and move to a bed out the way to finish off then later on you just move them back. ready to go again.

    I've just been planning some large pots for the bottom of the garden and they will have layers of bulbs in and should be in flower fro Christmas till about May then I'll just move them and put some more pots out with summer stuff in.

    You only have to let them get to the stage where the leaves have fallen over ( like onions) then you can either lift and keep them or cut the leaves back but most of it will be hidden by summer bedding anyway with a bit of luck
    Never be afraid to try something new.
    Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark.
    A large group of professionals built the Titanic


    • #3

      Thanks Nick.
      I think I need to review my plan of using bulbs in this bed. I have a small bed at the bottom of the garden, but that is filled with perennials and doesn't really have room for the bulbs.
      The issue I had this year was the bed was totally filled with bulbs, meaning I had no room to plant annuals (or anything else!) until I lifted the bulbs, which from memory was well into May, perhaps later.

      On another topic, does anybody have any idea what this plant was? I bought some in the nursery and they were murdered by slugs / snails, so I want to know what it was to not buy any more! My garden seems to be a slug / snail haven. I tried some nematodes this year and while I think it was a little bit effective, it just reduced the massacre of the young plants rather than eliminating the slugs!

      Plant in question (well, the remains anyway..)
      Click image for larger version

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      • #4
        Years ago gardeners tied down the foliage from bulbs until they died back completely.
        This meant the flower bed still looked tidy,
        If your daffodil and tulip bulbs are planted deep enough you should still be able to plant above them.

        And when your back stops aching,
        And your hands begin to harden.
        You will find yourself a partner,
        In the glory of the garden.

        Rudyard Kipling.sigpic


        • #5
          Is the plant in question verbena? I’ve got a really small border out the front,I search by plant size tho,type in things like evergreen dwarf perennials. I’ve moved daff bulbs when they’re dying back they take so long,dig them up cover with soil in a pot until you know where they’re going.
          Location : Essex


          • #6
            Yup - a verbena. Apart from deadheading I find they need little attention.
            I’ve just created a similar sized border along the side of the East facing side of my garage. I’ve planted sage, lavender and thyme. Plus the verbena.

            Why not create a herb bed like that with chives too as well as the bulbs already in there? You can keep the herbs small by cropping off them regularly.

            Keep going with the nematodes - after 3 years application on a previous allotment they worked a treat,
            Just make sure you have a wet spell when you apply them as they need moisture to move to hunt out their ‘food’
            "Nicos, Queen of Gooooogle" and... GYO's own Miss Marple

            Location....Normandy France


            • #7
              I think even in a small border you need some continuity through the year, so not all bulbs that die back and all annuals. Not sure if you have said what direction it faces as that will impact on what will be happy there. My north facing border is pretty narrow in places but I still have some shrubs that I supplement with perennials, bulbs and annuals. That way you avoid spells where it is bare or really messy.


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