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Summer maintenance in the Long Borders

Posted by Rosemoor Garden on 03 Aug 2009 at 04:11 PM

The Long Borders at Rosemoor have been looking very colourful over the past couple of months, with good displays from the shrub roses, lupins, delphiniums, day lilies and Siberian irises, to name but a few plants.  In order to maintain the momentum of interest in the borders so that they continue to look attractive until late summer/early autumn, we have recently been spending some time carrying out various maintenance tasks in the borders.

We try our best to ensure that all of the plants in the borders that need it are securely, but unobtrusively, staked as early as possible in the season.  We use a variety of sizes of Link-Stakes, adding in further stakes as plants grow taller.  The current spell of wet and windy weather is certainly providing a stern test for our staking so we have made it a priority to check that the stakes are doing their job properly, adding further stakes where needed and tying-in stray stems with garden twine.

The shrub roses in the Long Borders are deadheaded at least once a week.  This not only improves their appearance, but also, and more importantly, encourages the production of new shoots and further flowers.  The only roses we don’t deadhead are those that produce colourful hips, such as Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ and R. rugosa ‘Rubra’.

The flowers on the lupins in the borders faded a couple of weeks ago so we have cut the old stems back to their base in order to encourage new shoots to develop and, hopefully, they will produce a further display of flowers.  Similar treatment of delphiniums should produce the same result.

Where gaps appear in the borders when plants are cut back or removed, we try to plug them as soon as possible using plants that will provide colour and interest for the remainder of the season.  When we recently cut back the lupins some large gaps were left between the plants, presenting us with a good opportunity to use a group of seven Gaura lindheimeri we had on the nursery.  This is a very attractive, graceful perennial which likes a nice sunny spot with well-drained soil.  Its slender stems carry loose panicles of four-petalled white flowers which fade slowly to pink.  Flowers are produced over a long period throughout the summer.  Dahlias are another very useful gap-filler which will provide colour right through to the autumn, provided they are regularly deadheaded.

This is also the best time of year to take stock of a border and consider what improvements might be made to it.  We shall be doing this with the Long Borders over the next few weeks.  In particular we shall be assessing which perennials might benefit from being divided, bulked-up with additional plants or moved to a different position.  Making written notes and taking photos is a good idea so you have something to refer to in late winter/early spring when you come to carry out any work you have identified as needing doing.

James Shepherd, Gardener (Decorative and Nursery)


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