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An Economical Flower Garden With Your Own Hands, Or In The Footsteps Of Peter Oudolf

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In place of the pompous regular flowerbeds and squares confidently come flowerbeds in the landscape style, called in English manner "mixborders" (mix - "mixed", border - "border"). Classic mixborders are large-scale plantings of a fairly large area, which does not prevent the reproduction of a scaled-down model of a natural flower bed even on six acres. I managed to create on my plot quite decent flower garden of the natural type, which in the first year already looked decent. His device is not much "hit on the wallet. In this article I will share my experience of creating a budget flower bed in the style of Peter Waldolph.

An economical flower garden with your own hands, or in the footsteps of Peter Oudolf
Economy flower bed with my own hands. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

Certainly, it is much faster and more economical to create a familiar flower bed of annuals. Moreover, it will appear in all its glory in July, and you won't have to wait for several years to see the fruits of your labors in all their glory. Nevertheless, the modest charm of natural mixed gardens is very hard to resist, and today more and more gardeners are trying to recreate something similar to the inimitable gardens of the famous Piet Oudolf.

When we admire the landscape composition on the pages of popular magazines, very rarely do we think about how much work and material expenses were invested in the creation of a particular delightful masterpiece. And indeed, often the understanding of the considerable size of the budget of such a flower garden comes only in practice. And if you take into account decent prices for nursery plants, the organization of a mixed garden, and indeed, is a pleasure not cheap.

For myself I have identified five rules for creating an economical mixed garden, following which you can create a great flower bed with minimal costs.

1. Fast-growing shrubs and trees from cuttings and seeds

You can create the structure of a mixed garden inexpensively, using fast-growing bushes and trees grown independently from seeds or cuttings, or transplanting already mature bushes or trees from other places of the site.

How to grow a spectacular tree - Pavlovnia, from seeds, read the article "Pavlovnia - growing 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 coveted crops, you think through a plan and determine the structure of future plantings.

The so-called "skeleton plantings" are usually created from small trees and shrubs. Distributing evenly the woody ones in the flower bed we create a stable frame of future picture, and in the gaps between the key elements there is room for various combinations of perennial and annual flowers.

Of course, seedlings of dwarf trees and bushes are rarely cheap. I must say that in many cases this is not the worst option, but, of course, you must understand that in such a situation no one guarantees you the variety and good rooting ability of bushes, usually sold with bare roots. A mixborder is not a collection of exotic novelties, and the value of a single plant here is inferior to the function that each specimen or group of plants performs in a flower bed.

Look around, for sure, in your garden or at neighbors and relatives there are overgrown bushes that can be divided without damage to the mother plants, or trees growing "out of place", simply to transplant them into a new place.

For example, in our garden a willow "Hakuro Nishiki" was very long in an awkward place near the fence. And when arranging the mixborder, we put it in the place of honor, making the compositional core of the future flower garden. At that time it was a mature three-year-old tree, but thanks to careful transplanting and regular watering, the plant adapted well in the new place and started to grow.

This method allowed us to save a lot of money, given the cost of adult seedlings in the nursery. And the presence of a grown-up formed tree immediately added age and solidity to the young mixborder.

For a good saving, you can also grow trees or shrubs yourself from cuttings. But in this case, it is better to choose fast-growing species to achieve the desired effect. Among shrubs, these include: spirea, vesicle, elderberry, chubushnik, snowberry, turf, etc.

As for woody vegetation, a record-breaker in growth rate and ease of rooting cuttings are numerous species and varieties of willow. Also fast enough grow low varieties of birch, tamarix, lilac, elm (it is quite high, but perfectly pruned), bird cherry, mulberry, maple and others.

How to organize a flower bed around lilacs, read the article "Best perennials for planting with lilacs".

In the range of conifers for this role it is better to assign the western awn, which is not difficult to reproduce from seeds or cuttings.

An economical flower garden with your own hands, or in the footsteps of Peter Oudolf
Spotted willow "Hakuro Nishiki" was transplanted to my mixborder at three years of age. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

2. Planting clumps of fast growing tall perennials

Before the woody and shrubby groups have not reached the desired size, you can apply a little trickery, planting in the company of young seedlings clumps of fast growing tall perennials: Asters novobelgium, Goldenseal (choose modern hybrid varieties), helenium, etc. As the woody plants which have grown up can fully take on the function of voluminous structural components, the neighboring perennials can gradually be moved to a new location. Creation of "schools" for perennials

another simple method which allows to save money when making a mixborder, you can call the creation of so-called "schools" for growing perennials with their own hands. But not every perennial plant will please by blossoming in the first year, so it makes sense to keep the growing planting material in separate seedbeds - "schools". At this time discreet annuals can temporarily take the place of perennials in flower beds. The following plants grow well from seeds: Echinacea, yarrow, veronica, campanula, hellebore, daisy, Gypsophila, liatrix, delphinium, aquilegia, carnations, coreopsis etc.

When creating a mixed garden, 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 it is necessary to resort to a little & nbsp;dense planting.

Some of the perennials (cleaver swede, laburnum sage, bentgrass correopsis, etc.) reproduce well by cutting. ) are well reproduced by cuttings.

Please note!   In most major cities you can find floriculture forums where lovers of decorative plants organize the joint purchase of planting material at wholesale prices. Participation in such events allows you to buy quality planting material of interesting varieties inexpensively without overpaying.

An economical flower garden with your own hands, or in the footsteps of Peter Oudolf
Marigold from seeds gives colorful inflorescences. © Lyudmila Svetlitskaya

4. Independent cultivation of unpretentious annuals

Annuals in a mixed garden can not only serve as "trainees", filling the voids, which are left under the growing perennial flowers, but also play quite an independent role. The main requirement for the choice of ornamental plants of annual life cycle for the mixborder in the style of Peter Udolph can be called a characteristic appearance, close to natural species.

In the framework of the classical mixborder natural style totally inappropriate typical flowerbed annuals such as petunia, balsamins, flowering lion's eyes, large lush dahlias, hybrid verbena, thickly-waved hybrids begonias, and the like. However, the same notorious marigolds can fit organically into the mixboard, if you use discreet colors with small abundant flowers, such as, for example, numerous varieties of Thinleaf Tagetes.

Seeds of what flowers are best sown for winter, read the material "20 + flowers that can be sown for the winter".

High-growing shanky zinnias with pompoms of large inflorescences are not the best candidates for filling a natural flower bed, but the low-growing series of bushy unflowered zinnias "Profusion" will look in the mixborder no worse than the regulars of natural plantings - echinacea. And there are many such examples.

From annuals for the foreground I recommend to look at alissum, nemophyllum, iberis, smolly, leptosiphon, etc. Closer to the center not bad to mark out ageratum, heliotrope, medium dahlias with simple flowers, the above varieties of zinnias and tagetes.

Amaranthus, sunflowers, annual scabiosa, cosmea are successfully used as coulis or vertical accents in the mixborders. Of course, growing annuals in a mixed garden adds to the annual work of a florist, but it also greatly accelerates the ornamental peak of such a garden and greatly reduces its cost, because the seeds of some annual flowers can be found even for free. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

5. Don't hesitate to turn to nature

In this regard, I am reminded of 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 grown plants in breeding work.

It is indeed quite logical to look for material for natural flower beds exactly in natural conditions, because even in the middle belt there grow plants, on the basis of which garden forms, not much different from wild ones, were bred. So, in our dacha mixboard appeared Sanguineaea medicinalis and merlin, moved into the flower bed from an abandoned part of the garden, where they grew as common weeds.

And now I, like Burbank, wander around the surrounding meadows and collect seeds from favorite plants that are quite suitable for cultivation in the garden and can fit harmoniously into the mixboard. At the moment, along with bags of purchased planting material, seeds of cute "savages" are waiting for spring: Korostavnik, cat's clover and twig-leaf merlin.

I think if you look closely, in the expanses of meadows you can find even more interesting plants suitable for the mixed board. Naturally, it is important to respect nature and to grow plants from seeds gathered from wild plants, and not to move mature specimens into your garden as a whole. And certainly not to dig up rare plants in nature reserves and specially protected areas.

An economical flower garden with your own hands, or in the footsteps of Peter Oudolf
Wild meadowsweet blooms fit perfectly into the flower bed. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

6. We use mulch instead of compacted plantings

Trying to make the most attractive mixboard as quickly as possible, gardeners often plant plants rather tightly to each other, but this approach is not always justified. Over time, the bushes of most perennials and so close without leaving a gap, and dense planting will entail extra costs for planting material.

To ensure that the voids between the growing seedlings are not conspicuous and not too overgrown with weeds, it is useful to use different mulching materials. In natural flower beds, bark, wood chips, neutralized peat and the shells of pine nuts are most suitable for this purpose.

In our dacha mixboard to cover the soil successfully used a rarer type of mulch - buckwheat husk. It is one of the most inexpensive materials used for mulching, which does not prevent it from looking stylish and perfectly perform its function.

The buckwheat husk has a fine fraction and creates a dense covering under the plants, especially if after scattering the husk well spill it with water. On a homogeneous background of noble brown color, even sparse plantings of ornamental plants look stylish and natural. What is called - "cheap and sulfurous". You can buy buckwheat hulls in large quantities in gardening stores of natural agriculture.

An economical flower garden with your own hands, or in the footsteps of Peter Oudolf
In our dacha mixboard for covering the soil, buckwheat hulls are successfully used as mulch. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

The principle of economical mixborder also implies the reduction of costs for the care of the natural flower bed. To save time and effort for the subsequent maintenance of the mixborder, in addition to the mandatory mulching of the soil, I recommend laying drip irrigation tape, separate the flower bed from the lawn with a border tape and sow plants that will give self-seeding. This is quite appropriate in natural flower beds and will allow ornamental annuals and perennials to reproduce in the mixbord again and again without your direct involvement.