Sweet peas on the farm – 5th August 2016
6th July 2016
Trout N’ About – 8th August 2016
8th August 2016
Perennials are wonderful. I don’t know why I hadn’t realised this before. They are a so DREAMY because: 1) they come back year after year without you having to pay much attention to them, 2) they don’t mind growing through landscape fabric (something that suppresses weeds), and 3) they bulk out and fill a space ever so quickly, and will only do so more vigorously in their second year. Hooray! Ideal for lazy gardeners, but also for people who like a surprise and an ‘oh yes I forgot I’d planted that last year’ moment, when said perennial dutifully pops back up again in spring.
I only have two perennial beds (there were meant to be four but I ran out of time) and frankly didn’t want to look at my spade and fork, let alone dig over another flower bed in my life ever again. Ever. Although I’ve got some Delphiniums that are desperate to go in the ground, so I’ll probably have to do some more digging soon. I wish I’d thought more about perennials than annuals at the beginning of this adventure to tell you the truth, but I got swept up in the seed catalogues and the romanticism and endless possibilities of growing different flowers from seed. Next time, I’ll pay more attention to them and plant a load more in autumn!
Bed 1 contains: Achillea (‘Summer Shades’, ‘Summer Pastels’, and ‘Cerise Queen’, all of which I proudly have grown from seed), Verbena Bonariensis, Gaura ‘The Bride’, Feverfew (although, I am still confused because this may actually not be perennial), Echinops Ritro, Coreopsis, Helenium, Stachys and Sedum (‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Purple Emperor’). My naughty little helper Eadie liked chewing plant labels. A lot. So that explains why I can’t name every variety. And I squeezed in some non-perennial Ammi Majus at the end, because there was some spare space.
Bed 2 contains: Foxgloves/Digitalis (‘Candy Mountain’, ‘Sutton’s Apricot’, ‘Dalmation Mix’ –biennial), Lupins (‘Russel mixed’), a few Lavender plants for my love (‘Hidcote’, ‘Munstead’, ‘Ellagance Pink’) and some of the beautiful silvery leaf Cineraria Maritima ‘Silver Dust’, a biennial which is evergreen and great for silvery Christmas displays.
All were planted into holes in landscape fabric, as my Instagram feed showed me that’s how the pro’s do it. I burnt planting holes into the fabric with a blow torch, this trick stops the fabric fraying and allows you to create more accurate places to plant. But, and there’s always a but, there are a few downfalls in using landscape fabric that I’ve encountered so far. Firstly, the flowerbed you’re going to be putting it on has to be meticulously prepared, raked over and levelled so that’s the when the fabric is put down, it lies perfectly flat. Lots of compost (which mine didn’t have) would help to level the ground, and make digging the holes easier work. The fabric doesn’t stop the slugs and snails, which is odd, because you’d think there would be no-where for the sneaky things to hide under, as the fabric is black and gets hot enough to fry a slug in the day. They must be hiding in the grass. It also makes it pretty hard to put a barrier down around the plants to protect them. Slug pellets or a beer trap would probably solve that problem, but as neither are puppy friendly I’m left trying to put rings of sharp stones around the plants (doesn’t work) or re-applying grit after every watering session (v. time consuming) and so I’ve been a bit lazy and let the perennials play survival of the fittest – and so far, I’ve not had too many casualties! The other not-so-great thing about landscape fabric is that the weeds still pop up where you’ve made holes if the plants you put into said holes aren’t big and luscious enough to suppress them. Weeding around an already not-very-well established seedling often means weeding the seedling itself by mistake. Whoops!
Aside from me complaining, the landscape fabric for perennials beds does making the beds look neater, I don’t need to spend much time weeding it and I imagine its easier to not up-root things come the winter, because there are obvious indications as to where a plant is! So I’ve played by the book here and copied my much more experienced flower-farming peers – and I’m being rewarded by very happy plants, that will hopefully keep being happy and cosy amongst the landscape fabric for years to come!