Gardening News Navigation
jill, houghton, garden, services, maintenance, design, landscaping, stratford-upon-avon, bidford-on-avon, evesham, warwickshire, worcestershire, hedging, weeding, pruning, tree work, tree surgery, landscape gardening, paving, timber, decking, planting, driveway, fencing, patio, water feature.
Summer bedding plants
I’ve been quite frustrated with my garden lately. I’m getting impatient waiting for plants to become established; there are too many gaps in the borders and the recent cold spell has prevented the quick germination of seeds I sowed on bare soil. All this frustration got me thinking about bedding.
I admit to not being a huge fan of annual bedding plants, but I can see their attraction. For the gardener, they provide instant results – quick-fix solutions to gaps in borders, a tired corner, a dreary patio. They are easy, cheap, and fast growing, but they’re also short-lived and therefore disposable. I’d rather wait for my perennial plants to grow into the borders and sow a few cosmos seeds in the gaps, than get into the cycle of buying – and replacing – annual bedding every year.
It’s not the plants themselves I object to (although some DIY-store favourites are downright horrible and wouldn’t be seen dead in my garden thank-you-very-much). Many bedding plants are mass-produced, grown in peat, potted in polystyrene or plastic packaging, fed with artificial fertiliser and sprayed with artificial pesticides. They’re rarely selected for their usefulness to wildlife, and they require as much watering and feeding as home-grown veg. I can’t see how they’re worth it.
I recently discovered what happens to spent municipal plantings in my area. Tucked behind an advertising billboard, I found an enormous pile of discarded daffodils bulbs left by parks gardeners, it was taller than me. The bulbs had been dumped there – probably used once and dug up to be replaced by summer bedding – and left to die in a big heap. Daffodils deserve more than that.
Of course, there are alternatives, but they’re not as easy and instant as the less eco-friendly options. Some councils have moved towards more sustainable options in their municipal displays, growing shrubs and perennials to provide a long season of interest, and merely filling gaps with bedding rather than planting short-term annual bedding displays. A good example is Tetbury Council, which plants up long term perennial borders, and Royal Parks, which has eliminated use of polystyrene packaging and increased the use of biodegradable pots.
We can’t plant shrubs in our tubs and hanging baskets, though. But we can grow some herbaceous perennials, and seed-sown annuals. Perennial displays can be created from lifting and dividing established plants from borders (no such luck for me, at the moment), while bedding staples, such as French and pot marigolds, salvia, bidens, lobelia and pansies can be easily raised from seed. I should have thought about that a little earlier.
So I can’t work out what to do with the gaps. There are too many perennials in the garden anyway – any more and it would be swamped. Will someone establish a plant library, so I can have some instant results from flowering perennials and return them to be used by someone else next year? Perhaps I’ll buy some gnomes.
What’s your view on bedding? Do you replace your displays every year, or use a mixture of annual and perennial plants to add variety to your border displays?
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers. Five Filters featured article: You Cannot Kill An Ideology With A Gun.