Border patrol with Ruxley Manor Garden Centre
PUBLISHED: 19:16 29 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:16 20 February 2013
Faced with two large empty flower beds to fill, Kent Life's editor found the answer to her challenge in the capable hands of Ruxley Manor's resident garden designer...
How to create brilliant beds and borders with the help of Ruxley Manor Garden Centre's new planting service
Last autumn I dug up two substantial flower beds that form part of a central feature in the middle of my east-facing rear garden, writes Kent Life editor Sarah Sturt.Ive always been able to cope with the two smaller front beds (and in fact am trying to turn them into mini Elizabethan knot gardens, inspired by our 2010 Garden of Year winner!), but the larger back two had become over mature and frankly dull. I expected inspiration to strike over the winter, but by spring they were still empty. Very empty.
The problem solver
One of our key sponsors for the Kent Life Garden Competition is Ruxley Manor Garden Centre, who just happen to be launching a new service called Beautiful Beds and Brilliant Borders and needed a guinea pig to try it out: did I know anyone? Faster than you could say wheres my trowel? I was sitting in an outdoor office in Ruxleys Landscape Advice Centre, chatting to resident garden designer Jean Lineham.A former student at Hadlow College, Ruxley Manors fellow Garden Competition sponsor, Jean ran her own business for 16 years before joining the family-run company in Sidcup and is enjoying the challenge of heading up the new planting service.
With me I had brought a soil sample for analysis, the measurements of the areas to be planned and photos of the empty borders. During a 30-minute consultation we discussed my plant likes and dislikes (no oranges, yellows, or pansies please!), what style I wanted to go for and also looked at some planted-up areas designed to give customers ideas.I gave Jean an extra challenge, as two of my four central beds are already planted, so she would need to include references from the existing beds to link all four together. We also looked at a shady area by the garage I was convinced could never sustain growth. How wrong I was.
The planting plan
Within a few days I received in the post an exciting personalised folder containing:
A3-scale planting plan (CAD drawing) reflecting results of the soil test (PH 7.5), dimensions of the area to be planted and my wish list
Personal shopping list of plants and quantities needed to complete the plan
Guide to preparing the soil and products to use
Year-round garden diary and care instructions
Two stunning beds filled with some of my all-time favourites Fritillaria meleagris, Dianthus Doris, Allium Christophii, Hebe Margret and Erysium Bowles Mauve. Lavender (Lavendula Munstead) and two half-standard pink roses (Carefree Days) link the two smaller beds in with their new fellows.Even the shady, stone-filled bed by the garage became a triumph, with three Vinca Minors underplanted with dainty Lily of the valley.
Do put the time in preparing your beds following Jeans advice, I weeded mine thoroughly (I also used Glyphosatre weedkiller), then dug over my heavy clay soil, added loads of organic farmyard manure and bonemeal fertiliser
Do take progress photos as you go along then you can really appreciate the changes
Dont rush the planting I popped my plan into a plastic folder, as I had it by me on the grass, and laid out all the plants (one bed at a time), keeping them in their pots until I was happy Id got everything in the right place
Water thoroughly, add decorative bark as mulch and stand backand admire!
Stunning! Thebest gardening afternoon of my life and I still cant quite believe the transformation.
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Ruxley Manor Garden Centre, Maidstone RoadSidcup DA14 5BQ 020 8300 0084