Planning a Community Border


One of the good things to come out of the 14 week full Scottish COVID 19 lockdown has been the decision by our local council to do away with the maintenance of streetside borders normally planted out with annual bedding. The council contacted Dollar Horticultural Society with the offer to either grass over the border at the bottom of our street or put its care into the hands of the community. Well, that was not a difficult decision to make! This particular border sits alongside the main road through Dollar and is perfectly positioned for the enjoyment of local residents and passers-by.

The remains of the winter bedding, looking rather sad at the start of May 2020

I was contacted by a member of Dollar Horticultural Society (and my neighbour) to see if I would like to design a planting scheme that would stand the test of time and be relatively easy to maintain, which I was more than happy to do!

The first task was to decide on a style of planting – not so high so that the sight lines for traffic turning in and out of the road would be impeded; visually interesting throughout the year, and with seasonal changes; good for bees and other beneficial insects; no requirement for plant staking on the sunny but exposed site. My recommendations for a mixture of ornamental grasses and robust perennials, supplemented with spring and early summer bulbs, was quickly agreed and the planning began. We were working to a tight budget – some funds had been promised by the council but any additional plant costs would have to be raised locally. In the end all the neighbours chipped in, I donated my expertise for free, and we were able to afford the preferred planting scheme.

The plants were supplied by Macplants, a lovely nursery in East Lothian with an extensive range of interesting grasses of perennials, and I was delighted to have a reason to travel to pick them up! Several weeks later, the plant collection trip is still the longest journey I have made in 14 weeks!

The border was planted on 12 June, with help from two socially distancing members of the Dollar Horticultural Society. It was a warm, windy day and on several occasions I had to rescue plant pots that had blown over the main road! The plants were ‘puddled in’ (ie planted into a hole full of water) to combat the dry conditions and watered several times over the next dry week. Then the rain weather began, which is ideal for newly planted borders!

Three weeks later, with weeds sprouting on every inch of bare soil, I was able to get down with my hoe to dislodge them! In time the plants will spread and some will seed, so the weeds won’t get much of a look in, but in the meantime I am more than happy to get some regular hoeing exercise.

Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Aruncus ‘Horatio’, Alchemilla mollis and Sanguisorba ‘Pink Tanna’ in flower at the start of July

Stachys macrantha ‘Rosea’, with a very happy bumble bee

Community border

The new planting has been well received and is already full of bees and hover flies. Now, what bulbs shall I add in the autumn?

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