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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

New Bed in The Garden
21 Nov 2003

With the whole of the winter ahead it is nice to have a gardening project to work on. During inclement weather or, to put it another way, when it is soaking wet, freezing cold and the ground is like a bog, it is good to plan something without going outside.

Mixed planting areaThere must be space for a new bed in the garden. What about an island bed in the lawn or a Mediterranean zone along a south facing wall? A raised bed for herbs would be interesting. Do you fancy a mixed planting area, not in public view, where flowers can be cut for the house without taking away from the garden display?

The first job is to go round the rooms looking out of the windows to see if there are any bare, uninteresting areas. Is there a lack of colour at this time of year? Is there something unsightly that needs to be screened or is the area flat with no sense of scale? Decide on the total area available. There is no point in filling the space unless it fits in
and is to scale.

Herbaceous BorderA patio area isolated in the middle of a lawn will stick out like a sore thumb whereas a well shaped shrub bed or herbaceous border will compliment the surroundings. If the area is large the overall cost may well be a factor. Check there is access for at least a wheelbarrow.

Constructing a bed in a raised piece of ground can be a labour of love with all the materials being carried by hand. It can be frustrating arriving
at a satisfactory shape for an island bed. If you live in a bungalow there is no difficulty but if you look at a curved bed from an upstairs window it will look totally different to that viewed at ground level.It is a job for two people. One upstairs and one on the ground with a marker or a bucket of lime. If you are on your own a plastic hose allows you to amend the shape without covering the lawn in lines. Raised BedShape of the bed or beds is personal choice but insure that the surrounding lawn is easy to cut round with a mower. A kidney shaped bed with deep curves allows you to “hide” small plants that can only be seen from a certain position other than the main view. There is no reason why this new feature should add significantly to your maintenance time. Landscape fabric and mulch with composted bark or decorative gravel may be used to reduce the need to weed.

The mature height of the plants is important. Not high enough and there may be no impact or what was to be screened isn’t. Too high and the balance is wrong and other choice plants are hidden.

This is a good time to think of when you want it to look at its best. Winter colour, spring freshness, a riot of summer colour or autumn leaf display.

And that’s it, one project ready to implement in the spring.

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