Sometimes I feel that the vegetable garden takes a disproportionate amount of my time, as I really get a lot of pleasure from the perennial borders too but never spend the same amount of effort on getting them to flourish. Instead the picture below of geranium Johnssons Blue amongst grass and weeds is much how the poor borders look a lot of the time. So, last week while working in the gardens I had a flash of inspiration to really put the borders in order this autumn for a good start to the season next spring. I got quite carried away with the work, and much to my own satisfaction I managed to not only weed but also replant the border in front of the Gatekeepers cottage.
Although most of the flowers are spent by this time of year, a few pockets were still in bloom. I had to cut down some of the flowers as I transplanted them but others like the Phlox were left to continue feeding the bees until they start hibernation for the winter. Usually I leave the tidying up of perennial flowers until spring, as the decaying vegetation gives protection for hibernating insects as well as protect the roots of the perennials from the worst of the frost.
This flower border is very much a spring and early summer border, that starts off in pale pastels with daffodils and allium giganteum weaved into early flowering perennials such as columbines (Aquilegia) and Lady's mantle (Achemilla mollis). In July we have more colour coming up, with orange Chinese globeflower (Trollius chinensis), yellow daylilies and bright blue delphiniums added to the palate. In late autumn the only flowers still blooming is white mallow (Malva sylvestris) and white and purple phlox.
In just three years many of the perennials have grown big and were ready to be moved or divided and transplanted for the composition and layout of the border to work. The daylilys (Hemerocallis) for example had grown so big that they made a sea of same yellow flowers when they were planted all five of them next to each other, so these I transplanted as individual plants all along the back of the border. The process of replanting grown perennials feels brutal, but happily enough they don't seem to mind at all and pop up with undiminished vigour next spring. This is the right time to do it, as they have just enough time to establish a bit of roots before winter but have stopped growing for the season. Now the border har just enough gaps to be filled up with spring bulbs later in the month, but no other big gaps in the planting. Hopefully next season will se the perennials growing almost into each other and weaving a dense enough carpet to keep the weeds at bay!