Formal rosebeds | Informal roses | Formal flower beds
If traditional flower are avoided, less work is the result. Traditional formal flower beds, containing bedding roses or bedding plants, require quite considerable maintenance in terms of edging, weed control and plant care. Formal flower beds have large areas of bare soil that invite colonisation by weeds.
Many gardens have too many flower beds, or the flower beds are too distant from the house to be worthwhile. Quite frequently, flower beds are unnecessarily placed beside paths and driveways, offering little decorative value.
Almost without exception, formal flower beds should only be considered at the base of the house walls or internal garden walls, flanking paved areas, or decorating grass terraces. A flower bed near the house can be smaller, but more effective, than a flower bed some distance away.
It is often possible to remove inappropriate, or surplus, flower beds; reducing the number of flower beds offers considerable savings of time and effort.
Bedding roses are the most common kind of garden roses, generally grown in a formal rosebed of rectangular, semi-circular, or some other geometric shape. These have all the drawbacks, in terms of effort, mentioned above. Yet, because bedding roses are formal plants, a formal rosebed still provides the ideal setting.
By keeping the number and size of rosebeds small, it is possible to greatly reduce the amount of edging, pruning, weeding and spraying. Bark mulch is sometimes used on rosebeds but tends to be messy and is not really suitable.
For those who like roses but not the attendant bother of going them in a formal bed, it is possible to grow them at the front of a mixed border. In this situation, they can be planted a bit less formally – more randomly spaced in a group of five or nine bushes, for example. The edging job will be largely dispensed with.
The ground at their base could be planted with alchemilla, sedum roseum, small campanulas, even catmint or centranthus for the taller rose varieties. When the ground cover is established, there will be little difficulty with weeding.
Crocuses or tulips could be placed in clumps to brighten the scene in spring while the rose leaves are still expanding. This kind of planting extends the season of interest for an area of ground informally planted with roses, but would be inappropriate and messy in a formal rosebed.
Formal flower beds
Formal beds of half-hardy annual flowers are very popular, but labour intensive. The flowers must be replaced twice each year to give a separate spring and summer display. This means digging the flower bed twice a year, apart from edging and weed control.
In the case of flower beds, there is no possibility of chemical weed control The only available method is hoeing and considerable handweeding. In addition, watering will usually be necessary to get the young plants established.
Keep the area planted with bedding plants to a minimum, and like formal rosebeds, keep them near the house itself. A common mistake is to have a big formal bed or bedding plants away at the bottom of a large lawn where, if it can be seen at all from the house, the bed looks no more than a splodge of bright colour.
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