Beautiful Gardens of Doon-47
By Sunita Vijay
“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty, or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” -David Hobson
Hardy plants, or herbaceous perennials as they are called technically, are the friends ‘indeed’ of any gardener. They provide a sturdy back bone to the garden as they possess both the qualities of flowering profusely as well as of providing beautiful foliage. Herbaceous perennials are the type of plants that wither and die in the winter, but regrow from their own crowns during spring and summer. Their amiable By nature to get along with other plants makes them valuable in contemporary gardens.
Herbaceous perennials are mostly planted to give borders or to create separation between various bushes and flowers or to add a natural effect in the garden. These fascinating plants can be put to much imaginative use by mixing them with annuals or utilising them against a wall and providing an impressive backdrop. Unlike annuals and other temporary bedding plants, they stay in the garden for years and continue showering their love and affection to all the other habitants with their cosy presence. Apart from adorning gardens, they attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. They exhibit hardy temperament and aren’t difficult to grow. They begin their show without much care as soon as the weather is conducive. Seeing their non-demanding nature, we develop a tendency to ignore them, forgetting that these faithful friends need a better treatment. If replaced, relocated and refurbished with proper manure and supplements at the appropriate time, they will be second to none in surpassing all the other performers in the garden.
Their ability to be put to multiple use makes them an outstanding contributor. Here are some tips to repay these ‘true’ friends:
1. Herbaceous borders: With remarkable artistry one can create magical borders by using them in a cluster according to their colour and height, making them the best choice for a landscaped garden with a theme. One may add or delete a layer as per the availability of seasonal plants to accentuate the garden’s looks.
2. Island beds: Group them in an island, giving an informal look. Plant them in an irregular shaped bed to create a natural mount keeping the tallest plant in the centre. For smaller gardens, this will prove to be an interesting experiment.
3. Groundcover: For a gardener, it is a pleasure working in a garden but at times other pressing responsibilities take over. Covering the areas that are not the focal points of the garden with faithful perennials is the best choice. Creeping thyme, portulacas, specific variety of geraniums, Berginas and Alchemilla are the best choice. They will provide ground cover, colourful foliage and also fill the spot with flowers.
4. Mixed Borders: It is the best option to give a casual look to borders by mixing different varieties together. Use variegated as well as low height flowering perennials for this. Mixed borders, that too broad ones, look vibrant against a green lawn.
5. Rock gardens and raised beds: Generally dwarf-sized plants are used in a rock garden but adding one or two tall perennials like euphorbias and paeonies, dwarf maples, mixed lilies in harmony with the others can break the monotony.
Raised beds bring a display of dwarf perennials into greater prominence. It’s the best way to convert the weaknesses of some plants into strength by utilising them appropriately in a raised bed so that they create the desired effect.
6. Containers: The habit of perennials to perform best in the company of other plants makes them an ideal choice. When coordinated, it is difficult to say who enhances the beauty of the other but their presence adds a class and when mixed with flowering annuals, the garden rocks. Planting in containers is the best choice for small gardens, balconies and also for big lawns. One single container with a mix of lilies, falling geraniums, geranium ‘Johnson’s blue’, other variegated plants, few impatiens, and primulas can be an impressive focal point. Adding sweet alyssum or pansies or petunias to the same container will embellish it. In Spring, even overdoing and overfilling the container is soothing to the eye. For those with a puccaa yard, one big suitably shaped pot containing robust plants arranged immaculately will provide a savouring visual treat. Make sure that the container has a good drainage hole and is kept at a place with the plants that require same kind of weather conditions.
7. Wild Gardens: Wild Gardens are very fascinating. It is a myth that a wild patch demands no work. It does involve a degree of tactful management, i.e., an imaginative discretion to add or eliminate the right or wrong. The trick lies in using the native perennials. They will survive all odds and acclimatize with ease to the dynamics of the weather. Mix with foliage and flowering ones together to have a climax of colour all year round. Concentrate on giving a natural look by preserving it.
A medley of perennials can do wonder in all kinds of garden. The gardeners have continuously experimented with these hardy plants since ages. There was a phase when they had been neglected when people preferred bedded plants overflowing with annuals and exotic species over them. After completing full circle, they are being appreciated once again by landscape designers for their disease resistant and resilient strengths.
Just plant the right one at the right place. Get rid of bullying weeds and irritating companions if any, and herbaceous perennials will not disappoint with their performance.
Way to go!