Sedum Spectabile Brilliant & Lavandula angustifolia 'Elizabeth'

Fluid seasonal continuity

Herbaceous borders; an update

Just a few days ago, I penned a post questioning how to keep one’s borders looking fresh and new for the summer. Thereby, ensuring that the seasonal transitions, run smoothly for the herbaceous borders. Fortunately for me, the telly proved not just entertaining but refreshingly informative, providing some of the much needed answers. Thank you Gardeners’ World, and in particular, thank you Carol Klein.

Carol’s infamous Glebe Cottage garden is looking wonderful, and her borders are certainly looking their best. Though, she walked us to a patch where she was experiencing similar problems as probably most of us have at some stage this summer, in our borders. Some plants look brilliant, whilst others have just spent flowers and withered foliage, and thereby, badly letting the side down. The dilemma; if one decides to cut the lot down, you leave a gaping hole for quite a few weeks, which again lets the side down for current good performers. But if you don’t cut out the spent plant, it will just continue to wither and look worse every day.

Carol has no such fears. In her lovely enthusiastic and exuberant style, she takes no prisoners. ‘No point faffing about’ she said, ‘sheer the lot’. I suppose, sometimes one just needs to hear that. The answer to my query therefore, is just that. Take decisive action and just cut down all old and tatty foliage. Even if that means cutting down, ‘quite a lot of herbage’ as Carol so aptly put it. On introducing Carol’s slot on the programme, I believe Monty referred to this as the ‘finger tip’ approach. After all the man does seem to have very large hands.

Specific examples of herbage removal; Cirsium Rivulare and Oriental poppies. Cirsium Rivulare does not produce seeds, therefore just cut back the entire flowering stems to ground. If need be, you can sheer the leaves also. According to the master gardener, with any luck, it may flower again by September time. Oriental poppies should be sheered completely.  Once flowered, they will never again look good, unless you cut it  down completely. Within a few weeks, Carol states that it will ‘Rise from the ground like a phoenix’. Consequently, water and feed, all your cut or sheered plants, and wait for the encore.

Helping plants maintain performance need not all be so brutal. According to Carol, deadheading continues to be all important to keep plants putting their energy into flower as opposed to seed production. Particularly for those plants that have trusses of flowers, such as roses. Ours are long gone, and that probably proves the point, as Carol still seemed to have lovely blooms in her garden. Naturally, I know this to be true. Though unfortunately, I hold deadheading in the same regard as I do dental flossing. I know I have to do it, but it is a tad tedious.

Still to be eagerly purchased after my visit to Hampton Court Flower Show, I noticed that Carol too seems to be brandishing a pair of Niwaki secateurs. Funny how once you have something in your mind, you see nothing but that, for the rest of time. Pondering over, I will order mine shortly. Christmas will just have to come early for yours truly.

Just as many of tweeting audience confirmed, and it is not just down to yesterday’s episode, but this series of Gardeners’ World has been very good indeed. But then as posted back in March this year, this particular team, always were good. Long may they continue.

Now if only one could be as enthusiastic about the programme’s background music….