Gardening Tip – For the week 26th Sept. – 2nd Oct.
Plant up a metre border for a tenner!
My son recently moved to a small house with his wife and little toddler. They are only renting the house and intend staying there for only few years so they are not prepared to spend much on a garden that will soon not be in their hands. They are also both working and don’t have much time to sit in the garden, the purpose of the border make-over was simply because they did not want to see the bed of weeds that was originally there, every time they walked up the garden path. My son challenged me to fill the border with plants for less than £10 per metre. They wanted a lively display, low maintenance (especially as I will be the one that will end up doing it anyway!) and child friendly. The border is 3m wide by 80cm so I had a budget of £30.
I immediately discarded the traditional plan of summer bedding and winter bedding because nobody would tend to it, instead I had to find some low cost, long-living plants. If I were to go to a garden centre and fill the border with established plants from large pots there would have been no way to plant up the border on the shoestring budget I was given, so I had to turn to the bargain basement.
I found some small shrubs in Aldi for £1.79 . When their plants are fresh, and have not been on their unwatered shelves for too long they are usually good quality and good value. The price partly reflects on their size which is really small but I bought varieties which put on a lot of growth annually so they should fill in by next summer. I also visited a few garden centres looking for plants on the bargain shelves that were outgrowing their pots and they did not want to hold on to them for much longer, and a few others in small pots that are small now but will bulk up next year.
After the designing and the buying, we now have to don our boots and get to work:
I first had all the weeds (and their roots) removed, and had the soil dug over, it was of quite good quality and for the shrubs we were growing we did not need any special soil just a bit of extra compost. There were five flagstones, which I thought disturbed the effect of a ‘planted border’, but I did leave three of them, which saved me the work of putting plants everywhere. It will also make it easier to get to the back of the border which is 80cm. wide. I placed a plant pot on each one which will be easy to change with the seasons and will add an interesting feature to the border.
Now let us look at the plants in detail:
Beginning with the back of the border, we were looking for something that would quickly cover the wooden fence. I chose a quick growing Clematis  in the centre and since the clematis flowers profusely but has few leaves, on either side I put a Lavatera  which although it is a bush we will try to train it into a fan shape against the fence.
We then planted some free standing shrubs along the next line –  Aucuba; is a laurel like shrub which can be pruned to keep it small. Its variegated leaves will give extra light to the whole project.  Pieris with its ever changing leaf colour and summer flowers will add detail to the border.
Closer to the front I planted some low growing plants.  is a lavender bush which flowers profusely and will add a sweet smell to the border.  is a yellow flowered Gaillardia, both of these were not looking their best but have a healthy root system and lower leaves, so they were definitely worth the pound I paid for them on the bargain shelf. The corners I planted up with an edible mint plant  which will scramble over the paving stone and an upright perennial called Asarina . The Asarina has ferny foliage and looks like a small conifer- both were in small pots and cost me just £1.20 from a local garden centre.
The front row is viola  which is now available everywhere as winter bedding, these plants had outgrown their pots and were reduced to a £1 a tray. If they like their new surroundings they can self seed and be a long lasting perimeter!
I had to add the red plant pots  to cheer up the border over winter, they were half priced end of season strawberry plants from B&Q, and we might still get a few strawberries from them! (I was tempted to add some Solanum berry plants from B&Q pictured on the right as they were cheap and they give long lasting colour, but as they are poisonous, it would not be a good idea to plant in a garden with a toddler. I feel strongly that they should put a warning on the pack especially since the berries look so enticing to young children!)
I added a few slug pellets under the paving stones out of reach of children, but hopefully when the slugs go into hiding during the day they will find them!
7 large bushes @ 1.79 12.53
4 small bushes @ £1.00 4.00
4 perennials @ £1.20 4.80
3 strawberry plants @ £2.50 7.50
3 trays viola @ £1.00 3.00
Total Cost £31.83
As the border is 3m wide, if we divide the total cost of £31.83 by 3, we are left with £10.61 per metre! Well, the extra 61 pence I had to pay myself, but I enjoyed the challenge and I will now visit my son more often to see how the plants are getting on!
If you can plant up a border for less please tell me!
Have an enjoyable gardening week!