Day two and having spent the day in the garden again I decided to have a think about what sort of flowers would suit a novice gardener and their border, especially if you decided you didn’t like the choices yesterday.
First of all the hardest part is deciding on the colours. I decided originally to go for the reds, the golds and the purples with some white as it makes a lovely border and found the perfect plant…. heathers. I know that I go on a lot about heathers but they grow really quickly, and their colours last throughout the year so there is always some colour in your garden, and they are perfect for the novice gardener as it gives you the time to concentrate on other areas.
If you are going to have heather then mark off your border and dig down a little bit further than planned as the heathers can grow quite large and tall and the best place for them is a couple of inches down from the grass or patio if possible, and it would be advisable to put up a barrier. It looks a bit different for the first year but after that it reaches the height of the other areas.
I have a wooden barrier up as it sits quite nicely with the whole effect and even now some 3 years later it has outgrown the barrier but I have managed to trim it down so it down not affect the grass area but it has grown wide. You can purchase heather at any good garden centre or like me through shops such as Lidl, B&M, or Home Bargain.
They come already potted and they cost 3 for £5 (they are not big so don’t expect huge plants in the first year), so not expensive and I must admit not one of my heathers have failed and I have about 15 in the garden, so £25 for lovely colour all year round. I have bought all of mine at Lidl and B&M as with a novice gardener it is about the costs to start with, and some garden centres can charge a lot more…so weigh up the costs first. The ones above can cost as much as £8 each so have a think about what you would like to spend.
What you don’t want is to suddenly realise that the whole cost is creeping up continually and like most new things we can get carried away with the newness of it all. Think about it and set a cost limit. I always set a limit every year and generally stick to it. Although I did buy a bird house from a local carpenter and it was expensive along with the wooden archway but that is an investment. I now have ivy growing round the arch and it will look lovely when fully grown. The ivy by the way cost me £2 a plant.
The heathers I put in 3 years ago have spread about 12″ in width and are about 14″ tall and they look gorgeous. They need a well drained area and sunlight but put them in the ground and away you go. They are not prone to slugs and bugs etc and do not need a constant care. I trim mine down once a year to cut of the decaying parts of the flowers and that is it. They are very easy to look after and produce some stunning results.
One of them I planted is here in the picture:
I added some more last year and they have taken amazingly, and this time I added reds, greens and oranges and they are coming along nicely. I also managed to get 2 blue ones and I am so excited at the prospect of them growing as big as well. The colours during the winter always provide a joy during the wet, cold months.
As stated in my previous gardening posting, there is going to be a huge project going on in one half of the garden and that will be taking the patio down and the steps too (unsteady on my feet) and it will enable me to move around a flat area. My son in law, grandson and son will do that and I aim to surround the area with trees so that I keep the privacy I crave in the garden and will be writing up about the best sort of trees. I do have apple trees already growing, and I have huge hebes in very large pots (hebes also make great border plants but more about them tomorrow), but they will be added to the new area that they will be prepared at the back of the garden, and not on the patio area (the pots were expensive but don’t fall for the cost cutting on that one as I did the first time and the whole pot fell apart), and I will be transforming the patio into a Mediterranean seating area complete with a fountain and statues. I will be putting pictures on as well as the costs and the places where I purchase them from in case someone likes the idea.
Mr Points of Sue is going to build a pagoda and we will be using a sail on there so that the patio area is under cover and again this will be put on here, but that is for another day but whilst making plans I realised that there is a small wall round the whole garden and patio area, and I have decided that between the two parts of the wall we will be planting heather. It grows quick and does need the constant care and because it will be a bit of a rough area flowers could prove problematic so heather again and again and again. I know some people use pansies but I tend to like the plants that you don’t need to spend a lot of time on. and give results all year round.
When you plant your heather, leave at least 12″ apart as they love the room to grow and again you can feed the ground with a good nutrient as it is always good for a plant, but not too much as it can damage the plant but don’t worry too much as heathers are just as happy in any soil but it doesn’t do it any harm to use a little bit of feed. Only a small amount though. It is just that I always do this before a plant goes in because for me it gives them the best start, but above all keep the soil moist. I know that when the heather gets put it in the gap between the walls there won’t be spacing them out as much but I am aiming for a thick covering there and they will need to be trimmed more so than usual. There will also be a membrane going in before the soil so that it stays within the area and moist.
Before any plant goes into the ground it is always prepared first and that includes placing the heathers in a bowl the day before in their pots and leave them in some water overnight as it feeds the roots. That way when you actually plant it and the soil around the roots remains moist. When the ground is ready plant the heathers and carefully place the soil around the heathers as they are only young plants and like everything you plant…handle it with care.
Make sure the soil is moist down to a depth of 6″. You can mark up a stake with the 6″ mark and then prod the ground as it needs to remain moist at that depth as letting the ground dry out will not do the heather any good. I know it seems like a pain but it is really just a quick check when you water and it takes a couple of seconds. That is the only maintenance you need throughout the year and it is not much, and by doing this you can guarantee a good growth and spread.
Pat the heathers down so that it is secure and water when first added, but you don’t have to constantly water if you tend to have a busy life as 2 to 3 inches of water a week will do. I do use a little baby bio when watering at first as it gives them a good start but heathers do not need any form of support after that, especially if you have prepared the ground first and you can trim it down and into the shape you want. I actually prefer the cottage garden type on my grassed area as it seems to be very attractive to all forms of flying things and it is lovely to see so many bees, moths and butterflies. I do get a lot of wasps but there is a quick removing myself from that situation. The best time to see them is first thing in the morning.
Make sure that every end of summer that you trim off the wilting flowers and move them away from the area as decaying flowers can actually affect the roots due to any fungi affecting it. That is where the compost bin comes in. I cannot stress enough that the best form of compost for heathers is the ones from rotted plants and cuttings as it provides the right nutrient and when mixed with soil is a great feed. I will be writing up a blog on how to prepare and know when your compost is ready at a later date.
If you heather appears to be dying then remove quickly and plant another one as once it starts to rot it will only decay further and you need to add a new one. However, not one of my heathers has rotted and I have not had to replace any so they are worth that little bit of time and effort putting them in. The results are glorious on a lovely summer day when you can see the colours brightly.
The main points….
Make sure that you prepare the area well.
Do not over feed the nutrient of the plant and where possible use natural compost.
Leave to stand overnight in a small bowl of water that just covers the bottom of the heather pot.
Moisten the hole you are putting it in and then plant.
Make sure that you press down firmly and then water again but only lightly. They do not need a soaking.
Only a couple of inches of water are needed each week. If it naturally rains then super as that is great for your plants.
Make sure you check at least once a week with a stake that the soil is moist at least 6 inches down.
Make sure the heather gets at least 6 hours sunlight a day and don’t let it dry out.
Trim the heather if you feel it is growing to quickly or not in the area that you want it to.
Leave at least 12 inches where possible as I know mine have grown quickly and you want it to be able to flourish, as that gap soon gets filled.
Remove any dead flowers and stalks at the end of summer and compost them. This will eliminate the chance of any fungi attacking the ground.
If your plant starts to die then replace with a fresh one as it cannot be saved. Although as stated none of mine have succumbed and they are a very hardy plant.
Try to mix and match the colours as they look lovely when growing and really add colour to your garden.
Before the winter sets in use the gravel as I previously advised to cover the area of soil surrounding the heathers as this will protect them from the cold during winter, and will stop the soil from drying out.
The heathers seem to be one of the plants that slugs and snails do not eat so if you are plagued by them then they make a great choice for the border.
If any of you have any questions or want to gain some advice on planting heathers then please leave a comment on here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as soon as possible