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Floral fences

Rupa Gopal
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Planting in close clusters and rows will not only add colour to your green patch but also help build a beautiful border, says Rupa Gopal

flower power(clockwise from top) A bed of dianthus, and a charming carpet of green and white
flower power(clockwise from top) A bed of dianthus, and a charming carpet of green and white

Looking to create a colourful fence? Here are some easy methods. Start with small beds of green patches that can be easily prepared — squares or rectangles bordered by brick will do just fine. More imaginative shapes can be tried, but they need more maintenance.

The top soil should be dug up so the planting can be done in clumps. A layer of mulch will help fertilise the bed naturally, and prevent water draining away too fast into the ground below. Beds of phlox and dianthus are particularly colourful—pinks, reds, whites, mauves and purples. Dianthus does quite well in Chennai’s brief cold season.

Colder regions could plant beds of pansies, low-growing snap dragons, hybrid verbena that are really lovely with their white centres in jewel-like colours, alyssums, nasturtiums, and even poppies.

New varieties of short pentas, dwarf ixoras, grouped bulbs of day and rain lilies, dwarf marigolds edged with taller gaillardias, trailing verbena, and exuberant hybrid vincas in all shades are all perfect bedding plants for warmer climes. Not to forget the portulaca, adding colour and cheer in plenty.

Weeding is much reduced in beds, as the planting is thick on the ground, not allowing much space for weeds. A rock, a stone figure, or a stone lantern often makes for an attractive contrast in a flower bed, or even a bed of grass, in minimalistic style.

Borders were all the rage in traditional Victorian English cottage gardens, with their lavender, larkspur, hollyhock, rambling roses, salvias, and snapdragons.

Beyond these cool English pastels, one is flooded with the hot colours that bask in tropical sunshine. A border here in tropical India could well sport zinnias, red salvia, trimmed jasmine, tall and short sunflowers, and dwarf oleanders. Strong colour is thus achieved, and the borders could edge small gardens of potted climbers on frames, blooming with tropical abandon—alatas, passion flowers, clerodendrons, honeysuckle, and wild jasmine in starry sparkles of fragrant bunches.

A border could also be a trained fence, or hedge, with ipomeas growing on it, forming green barriers laden with flowers.

A fence could also be a vertical lattice frame, as a showpiece-cum-protective divider, giving space and height for climbers. Similarly, a showstopper could easily be made by a climber grown over a high pole, culminating in a circular top, which could be made from an old cycle wheel. A cascade of flowers is thus achieved, making a beautiful focus in the corner. Both the pole and the wheel will need to be firmly secured in order to take the weight of the growing climber.

Those with little or no space need not despair—a window box could form a bed for winter plants, and later for summer colour too.

Hanging baskets or pots too could be planted with small plants of the season, so one does not miss out on the blooming.

An attractive contrast would be to grow asparagus ferns along with flowering plants in hanging pots.

Moss is a good lightweight medium, with an under layer of soil, for hanging pots and baskets, retaining moisture well. Those with no time for gardening could create a different sort of bed—a tiny water body planted with small lilies would be a lovely feature, with an overhanging bougainvillea blazing with colour.

Nothing else would be needed to create a sense of design and colour in such a spot.

Those with little or no space need not despair—a window box could form a bed for winter plants, and later for summer colour too.


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