An economical flower garden with your own hands, or in the footsteps of Peter Udolph
Pompous regular flower beds and discounts are being replaced with confidence by flower beds in a landscape style, called in the English style “mixborders” (mix - “mixed” border - “border”). Classic mixborders are large-scale plantings of a rather large area, which does not interfere with reproducing a reduced model of a natural flower garden even on six hundred square meters. I managed to create a quite worthy natural-type flower garden on my site, which in the first year looked decent. However, his device did not “hit the wallet” much. In this article I will share my experience of creating a budget flower garden in the style of Peter Udolph.
Of course, creating a familiar flowerbed from annuals is much faster and more economical. In addition, she will appear in all its glory in July, and will not have to wait several years to see the fruits of her labors in all its glory. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to resist the modest charm of natural mixborders, and today more and more gardeners are trying to recreate on their plots something similar to the inimitable gardens of the famous Pete Udolph.
When we admire the landscape composition on the pages of popular magazines, we rarely think about how much labor and material costs have been invested in creating this or that amazing masterpiece. And indeed, often understanding the considerable size of the budget of such a flower garden comes only in practice. And if you take into account the decent prices of nursery plants, the device of the mixborder, in fact, turns out to be an expensive pleasure.
For myself, I have identified five rules for creating an economical mixborder, following which you can create a magnificent flower garden with minimal costs.
1. Fast-growing shrubs and trees from cuttings and seeds
You can create a mixborder structure inexpensively, using fast-growing shrubs and trees grown independently from seeds or cuttings, or transplanting already mature shrubs or trees from other places on the site.
How to grow a spectacular tree - paulownia, from seeds, read the article "Paulownia - grow from seeds."
Sometimes we literally fall in love with a particular flower and begin to form a flower garden around our chosen plant. But it will be much better if, before planting the desired crops, you think through a plan and determine the structure of future plantings.
The so-called "skeletal planting", usually created from small trees and shrubs. Evenly distributing the woods in the flower garden, we create a stable frame for the future picture, and in between the key elements there is room for various combinations of perennial and annual flowers.
Of course, seedlings of dwarf trees and shrubs are rarely cheap. Relatively inexpensive copies can be found among enterprising grandmothers in the market. I must say that in many cases this is far from the worst option, but, of course, you must understand that in such a situation no one guarantees the variety and good survival rate of bushes, usually sold with bare roots.
However, such planting material does not have to be purchased at all. A mixborder is not a collection of exotic novelties, and the value of an individual plant here is inferior to the function that each instance or group of plants performs in the flower garden.
Look around, for sure, in your garden or your neighbors and relatives there will be overgrown shrubs that can be divided without damage to the mother plants, or trees growing “out of the yard”, just to transplant them to a new place.
For example, in our garden, the motley willow "Hakuro Nishiki" was in an uncomfortable place near the fence for a very long time. And when installing the mixborder, we placed it in a place of honor, making it the composite core of the future flower garden. At that time, it was already an adult three-year-old tree, but thanks to a neat transplant and regular watering, the plant adapted well in a new place and started growing.
This technique allowed us to save a lot of money, given the cost of adult seedlings in the nursery. And the presence of a grown, formed tree immediately added age and solidity to the young mixborder.
To save money, you can also independently grow trees or shrubs from cuttings. But in this case, to achieve the desired effect, it is better to choose fast-growing species. Among the shrubs, these include: spirea, cysticis, elderberry, mock up, snowberry, derain, etc.
As for woody vegetation, numerous species and varieties of willow are the record for the growth rate and ease of rooting of cuttings. Also, fairly low varieties of birch, tamarix, lilac, elm (it is quite tall, but cut well), bird cherry, mulberry, maple and others grow quite quickly.
How to organize a flower garden around lilacs, read the article "Best perennials for planting with lilacs."
In the assortment of conifers, it is better to assign the western one to this role, which is easy to reproduce from seeds or cuttings.
2. Planting curtains of rapidly growing tall perennials
Until the tree-shrub groups have reached the desired size, a little trick can be applied by planting in the company of young seedlings a curtain of fast-growing tall perennials: New Belgian asters, goldenrod (choose modern garid varieties), gelenium, etc.
As the growing woody trees can fully perform the function of volumetric structural components, perennial neighboring plants can be gradually transferred to a new place.
3. The creation of "schools" for perennials
Another simple trick that allows you to save money when installing a mixborder is the creation of so-called “schools” for growing perennials with your own hands.
Most ornamental perennials for natural-type gardens are easy to obtain from seeds. But not every perennial plant will please flowering in the first year, so it makes sense to keep growing planting material in separate "school" beds. At this time, the places of perennial plants in flower beds can temporarily be occupied by discreet annuals.
When grown from seeds, they grow well: echinacea, yarrow, veronica, bluebells, window sills, nyvyanik, gypsophila, lyatris, delphinium, aquilegia, cloves, coreopsis, etc.
When creating a mixborder, do not forget about some “express perennials” that bloom in the year of sowing. Seedlings of these fast-growing flowers can be planted immediately in a permanent place, but to achieve the desired effect in the first season, you should resort to a somewhat tight planting.
Among these plants for growing in a natural mixborder, I would especially like to single out: oak sage, lofant (agastache), gaillardia, gelenium, centrantus, rudbeckia, Japanese scabiosis, etc.
Plants grown from seeds can subsequently also be propagated by division. Most clumps of perennials are ready for dividing by the 2nd – 3rd years of life, and the more often you carry out this simple operation, the more planting material you can get.
Individual perennials (stonecrop prominent, sage oak, coreopsis whorled, etc.) are well reproduced by the cuttings.
Note! In most major cities, you can find flower forums where lovers of ornamental plants organize joint purchases of planting material at wholesale prices. Participation in such events allows you to inexpensively purchase high-quality planting material of interesting varieties without overpayment.
4. Self-cultivation of unpretentious annuals
Annuals in the mixborder can not only serve as “trainees” filling the voids that are left under the growing perennial flowers, but also play a completely independent role. The main requirement for the selection of ornamental plants of the annual life cycle for a mixborder in the style of Peter Udolph can be called a characteristic appearance, close to natural species.
In the framework of the classic natural style mixborder, typical flower beds of annuals such as petunia, balsamine, terry snapdragons, large lush dahlias, hybrid verbena, densely terry hybrids of tagetes, begonias and the like are completely inappropriate. However, the same notorious marigolds can organically fit into the mixborder, if you use discreet colors with medium-sized plentiful flowers, such as, for example, numerous varieties of tagetes thin-leaved.
The seeds of which flowers are best sown before winter, read in the article "20+ flowers that can be sown before winter."
Tall, shaded zinnias with pompons of large inflorescences are not the best contenders for filling a natural flower garden, but the low-profile series of bushy non-double-skinned zinnias “Profyuzhen” will look in a mixborder no worse than regulars of natural planting - echinacea. And there are many such examples.
Of the annuals for the foreground, I advise you to take a closer look at alissum, nemophyllum, iberis, smolevka, leptosiphon, etc. Closer to the center, it’s nice to mark the ageratum, heliotrope, mid-sized dahlias with simple inflorescences, the aforementioned varieties of zinnia and tagetes.
The following are successfully used as side scenes or vertical accents in mixborders: amaranth, sunflower, annual scabiosis, cosmea. Of course, growing annuals in a mixborder adds an annual job to the grower, but at the same time significantly accelerates the onset of the peak of decorativeness of such a flower garden and significantly reduces the cost of its arrangement, because the seeds of some annual flowers can be obtained even for free.
5. Do not be shy to turn to nature
In this regard, I recall the story of the famous American breeder Luther Burbank. During long walks in nature, Mr. Burbank had to regularly tear his ties, shoelaces and handkerchiefs to mark interesting wild flowers, and subsequently collect seeds and use the plants grown in breeding work.
Indeed, it is quite logical to look for material for natural flower gardens precisely in natural conditions, because even plants grow in the middle lane, on the basis of which garden forms that are not much different from wild ones are bred. So, in our summer cottage mixborder there was a medicinal hemorrhage and loosestrife loosestrife, which moved to the flower garden from an abandoned part of the garden, where they grew like ordinary weeds.
And now, like Burbank, I wander around the surrounding meadows and collect seeds from the plants I like, which are quite suitable for growing in the garden and are able to blend harmoniously into the mixborder. Currently, along with bags with purchased planting material, springs are waiting for the seeds of pretty "savages": bark dweller, cat's clover and barbed grass.
I think, if you look closely, in the expanses of the meadows you can find even more interesting plants suitable for a mixborder. Naturally, it’s important to take care of nature and grow plants from seeds collected from wild plants on your own, and not to transfer the whole adult specimens to your garden. And even more so - do not dig up rare plants in reserves and specially protected areas.
6. Use mulch instead of compacted landings
In an effort to make the mixborder the most attractive as quickly as possible, gardeners often plant plants fairly tightly together, but this approach is not always justified. Over time, the bushes of most perennials and so close, without leaving gaps, and compacted plantings will entail extra costs for planting material.
So that the voids between the growing seedlings are not striking and not too overgrown with weeds, it is useful to use various mulching materials. In natural flower gardens, bark, wood chips, neutralized peat, and pine nutshells are most suitable for this purpose.
In our summer cottage mixborder, a more rare type of mulch, buckwheat husk, has been successfully used to cover the soil. This is one of the most inexpensive materials used for mulching, which does not prevent it from looking stylish and perfectly performing its function.
Buckwheat husk has a small fraction and creates a dense coating under the plants, especially if, after scattering of the husk, it is good to spill it with water. Against a homogeneous background of a noble brown-brown color, even sparse plantings of ornamental plants look stylish and natural. What is called - "cheap and cheerful." To purchase buckwheat husk in large volumes is possible in gardening shops of natural agriculture.
The principle of economical mixborder also implies a reduction in the costs of caring for a natural flower garden. In order to save time and effort for subsequent maintenance of the mixborder, in addition to the obligatory mulching of the soil, I recommend laying drip irrigation tapes, separating the flower garden from the lawn with a border tape and sowing plants that will self-sow. This is quite appropriate in natural flower gardens and will allow decorative annuals and perennials to be reproduced in the mixborder again and again without your direct participation.