Plants to Complement your Composite Decking
As leading composite decking boards supplier we quite often get questions from our customers about which are the best plants or flowers that would complement our composite decking boards. The answer to that question is never an easy one, as there are many factors to consider, shape of the garden, sunspots, other plants in the garden and their location. The colour of the decking you have chosen and so on.
We have written a small guide that might help the green fingered ones among you and in this article we take a look at hardy annuals and –half-hardy annuals.
Annuals deliver short lived, freely changeable colour arrangement in beds, borders, pots and boxes. They are also a tremendous addition in mixed borders. Where their flowers fill the gaps between perennial flowering times. In a newly planted shrub border they can be used to great effect in the spaces which the developing shrubs will eventually spread to fill. Annuals are not particularl as to soil type and most will grow in chalk, clay or sand, but they will require good drainage.
Lots of commonly grown annuals make superb cut flowers. However, if they are taken from your main display it can result in gaps in the overall design. Instead of taking the flowers from a showpiece border or bed, plant some in rows in the vegetable garden and cut these. Calendulas, godetias, larkspurs and love-in-mist are all good choices.
Calendula, or pot marigold, is a genus of about 15–20 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the daisy family Asteraceae. They are native to southwestern Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean
Making the right choice
Hardy and half-hardy annuals
Annuals flower, seed and die in one year, and can be divided into two types: hardy and half-hardy. Hardy annuals can be sown outdoors in March or April. Half-hardy annuals are sown under glass and the seedlings are planted out when all danger of frost is past.
|Hardy Annuals||Flower Colour||Half Hardy Annuals||Flower Colour|
|Alyssum||Lavender, pink, white||Antirrhinum||Pink, red, white, yellow|
|Calendia||Orange, tan, yellow||Begonia||Pink, red, white|
|Centaura||Blue, pink, red, white||Callistephus||Lavender, pink, purple, red, white|
|Chrysanthemum||Pink, red, white, yellow||Dahlia||Pink, red, yellow|
|Clarkia||Pink, purple, red, white||Impatients||Pink, red, white|
|Convolvulus||Blue, pink, white||Lobelia||Blue, pink, red, white|
|Delphinium||Blue, pink, red, white||Nemesia||Orange, pink, red, yellow|
Importance of colour
Before planting annuals, give some thought to colour schemes. A single colour makes a strong statement if you prefer a multi-coloured display, choose harmonious shades, or variations on a single theme rather than clashing contrasts. White, yellow and pink flowers are at their best in the evening and early morning.
Mixed borders Around Your Decking
When choosing annuals to plant in a mixed border, always make a note of the colour of established plants so that you can choose tones that are in harmony.
A packet of surprises
A wide range of seeds can be bought in mixtures based on themes, like flowers for butterflies or fragrant flowers. The enormous variety, sometimes a hundred in one packet, makes the results rather unpredictable. Those subdivided by height, in packets labelled ‘tall’ ‘medium’ ‘short’, are more practical.
Some for the shade
Few hardy of half-hardy annuals will do well in total shade, but Begonia semperflorens both upright and trailing varieties of lobelia will bring colour to the most overcast corner. Busy lizzies, foxgloves, fuschias, nemphilas, pansies and violas thrive in partial shade.
If you sow hardy annuals in straight lines it will make it easier to distinguish them from weeds and to thin them out to the required spacing. However, since straight lines of flowers can give a rather regimented appearance to your beds, try marking out the area into overlapping semicircles, with one semicircle for each variety. Draw the drills in one semicircle at different angle from those in the next. As the plants grow and spread, the lines of the drills will blur, and you will achieve natural looking drifts of flowers.
As soon as seedlings begin to grow, treat them with tender, loving care. Hand-weed carefully between the plants and water generously but gently, using a fine rose on the watering can. A good way to provide a little support for taller varieties is to surround them with short, twiggy sticks, which the developing foliage will soon cover.
Spacing out seeds
If you do not have any of the very small grow-pots that are available, use a seed tray covered with a piece of mesh wire. Plant one seed through each hole to obtain well-spaced seedlings. Remove the mesh after sowing.
A good soak
Soak the roots before planting potted annuals. Plunge the pots into a basin of water, or water the from above. Drain well, remove the plants from their pots and place them in the soil, making sure that each planting hole has been watered well and allowed to drain.
If the soil is too hard or dry, annual seeds will have difficulty in germinating. Work the soil well before sowing raking it down until the surface is fine, crumbly tilth. Then water the drills well, before and after sowing. This will speed germination ad help the roots to grow deeply and strongly.
When the seedlings are about 2.5cm tall, thin them out to approximately half the final spacing recommended on the seed packet. With a little care, most thinning, with the exception of plants that develop tap roots can be transplanted successfully in another part of the garden. Make the final thinning when the plants have grown to about 5cm.
To encourage bushy growth, pinch out the growing tips of young plants, just above the topmost pair of leaves. This encourages the plants to produce side shoots and more flowers. Pinching out is particularly recommended for clarkias, cosmos, godetias and seet pea.
About the author:
UK Composite Decking is one of the UKs leading suppliers of UK made composite decking boards. You can contact UK Composite Decking on [email protected] or visit their website www.ukcompositedecking.co.uk