Sunday, September 20, 2015

The roles of herbaceous plants - My Garden School week 2

I've been a bit late submitting my second assignment. I couldn't log in for a couple of days, but the technical team soon got the problem sorted out and I got to work. Last week (week 2) involved looking at the various roles of herbaceous perennials in the border. They can be structural, act as a 'filler', have interesting foliage, or be grown for their flowers/flower heads.

This assignment was very useful for me  it has identified that I don't have enough structural plants in several borders. Whilst these borders are not just herbaceous and do have shrubs, the addition of some stronger structural perennials, repeated through the border would, I feel, help reduce the 'bittiness' feeling I get when looking at it.

As the garden wasn't good at providing examples of structural perennial plants, I raided some photos from previous garden visits. It was interesting to look at photos of borders and identify the roles of the various plants within them.

I also go comprehensive feedback on my first assignment by the course tutor, Dr Noel Kingsbury. As someone who works in education, I understand the importance of effective feedback in the learning cycle, and I learnt as much from his feedback as I did from completing the assignment.

This week, we're looking at perennials in their habitat and will be exploring how some plants are adapted for specific environments and how we can use this knowledge to plant effectively in 'problem' areas.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Sunday, September 06, 2015

My Garden School week 1: Act like a rabbit

It's the first week of the My Garden School course I introduced here. I thought I'd write a little about the structure of the course so far, and some of what I've learnt.

The home page of the classroom has a friendly message board where students and tutor (in this case, Noel Kingsbury) can interact. We've all been busy introducing ourselves and our gardens. Whilst most of the students are from the UK, with it being an online course, we could be from anywhere. One student is from Uruguay, so it will be interesting seeing her take on herbaceous borders.

The lesson is a video, supported by a clear handout which reinforces the video information, making it easy to refer back to. And, in true back-to-school style, there's also homework to complete. You have 7-10 days to do this, and upload it online for critiquing by tutor and other students. I've nearly completed my first assignment - I just need to find one more example of a spreading perennial to photograph and talk about and then I can submit.

So, what have I learnt so far? Well, Noel has encouraged us to get down on our hands and knees for a rabbit's eye view of our borders. We've been looking to see whether or how perennials spread, and if the do spread, are they guerrillas or through phalanx style. These facts can help you understand how they'll grow and spread in your garden  - are they going to take over, or be relatively well behaved? I've learnt about cespitose grasses - those beautiful dome-forming grasses that look so elegant. What use is this information to the gardener? It's already helping me understand how different plants compete or grow together happily, and why some plants get swamped in a border whilst others can hold their own, or even take over. It'll even give you an indication of how long the perennial will normally live.

Roll on week 2 - homework has never been so much fun!

(Not my garden: a photo of grasses and Achillea at RHS Harlow Carr).