• Sofias Country Gardens

Autumn tasks: renovating flower borders


I have two lovely yet often much neglected old flower borders at Stensund. They were in fact the first two borders I ever dug there, way back over twenty years ago. Back then I had little knowledge of how to keep them in shape, or how to design anything garden related. I just thought it would be nice to plant some flowers next to preexisting shrubs, and finished off with lining the bed with little stones I collected. Last spring I "found" them again, which can happen during a lockdown when suddenly faced with a surplus of time in between other projects. I started renovating the borders, but soon came upon an unexpected problem.

In a little birdhouse someone had built a nest and laid eggs. I so badly wanted to take my secateurs to the Mock orange (Philadelphus) bushes that had grown over the years into a four meters tall impenetrable wall, but there was no way to go near the place without disturbing Mama bird so it had to wait. In July the birds were born, but by the time they flew the nest other things kept me busy so it took until now in late autumn to get started.

First I thinned out the bushes quite savagely. According to good gardening practice you aren't supposed to take out more than a third of the branched, but as I always say "do as I recommend and not as I do". Off with their head! Then I got galvanised steel borders to dig into the ground and mark the borders existence. In a wild garden such as mine, the biggest problem is keeping the grass out as it invariably creeps into the borders. I dug a trench about 15 cm deep, and half-buried the metal border into the ground. Afterwards I lined the inside of the border with the rocks that had been hidden in the grass for so many years.

The upper border consists of very sandy soil, and as marjoram enjoys a dry kind of location I collected all their self seeded plants from both borders and put them there. You are quite right in noting the dark patches of empty soil where I have removed weeds and added compost - these empty spaces will obviously soon be filled with some lovely new perennials. How exciting! (The bare soil outside the border, on the other hand, is where we have put in a new water pipe to the brand new winter chicken coop hidden behind the black door in the old woodshed above. By next year it will be covered with lawn again.)

In the lower border I weeded out everything else but the hostas, ladies mantle and aquilegias, replanting self seeded babies as I went. For some reason this border is much more humus rich and moisture retaining, which suits these plants really well. I left the roses above the perennials untouched, although they are a frightful mess, because at this time of year it is hard to tell which branches are old and drying out and which ones are still viable. It is an old variety called Midsummer Rose, and although it only flowers for a brief moment in time I love it dearly.

While working on the border I realised having pots plonked here and there just made it all very fussy, so I took them away. Truth be told, they had appeared throughout the years from other places and just been put there while I was thinking about what to do with them. Now I decided to place them on the patio next to my still-leben on the north side of the kitchen.

Last but not least I added more bulbs to the flower beds because... well just because. ("Hello, my name is Sofia and I'm a bulbaholic.") I love planting bulbs because it feels kind of like burying a treasure - no trace of the planting is left in the neatly weeded borders but just you wait until spring!

Wishing you all a lovely week!


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