Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Mind The Gap

Gaps in the garden and plant borders, don't we all have them? Or maybe not.


At least we do anyway, especially in the jungle area. Some of the gaps were the result of understory plants dying recently or not making an appearance from last year. Some because the plant occupying the space have already become dormant. Some because plants previously hugging the ground space are now much taller hence freeing up the space below its canopy. Whilst some simply because we haven't found the right plant yet to permanently occupy that space. 

Two Cyathea cooperi in pots here, with the Saruma leaves concealing them
Trailing away...
Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Torafu'
But gaps have to be filled to achieve a more dramatic planting scheme and lusher borders, and lush it should be especially in the jungle area.

One of the benefits of having several potted surplus plants set aside is that you can use them to temporarily plug these gaps to achieve a fuller look in the garden. You can keep it this way for the entire growing season, or for just a few days especially if the plant used won't thrive well if placed in that gap for too long. The latter is usually the case if only a very temporary lushness is needed, say for an open garden, taking pictures, or if you have special visitors coming to view the garden.

Schefflera delavayi
Use black pots as they are easier to blend away. Plunge them if possible
Magnolia maudiae
Small plants in pots can be used to blur away bigger pots
With two groups coming over last weekend we had to make the jungle area extra lush and used some of our surplus plants to fill in these gaps (some of you may already have a clue what one of these two groups are ;)).


Image (c) Alternative Eden
Rhododendron sinogrande
Fatsia polycarpa
Some of the plants we placed will stay there for the remainder of the season, one or two we'll have to put back in the greenhouse and working area in the next few days. Placing plants in pots to fill in gaps, is it a form of cheating? No not really, not in a bad connotation anyway. They are like props to be used to stage dress a set, a component of a theater that is used as and when it is needed.


Blechnum tabulare
Schefflera digitata
Plus these 'props' are noncommittal, mobile, and you can easily change the look of an area by moving the pots and changing them around. And no digging involved, all you need to do is lift off the pot!

Not every part of a border has to be composed of permanent plants. Gaps can be a good thing. Consider them as spaces for change and variety instead!

Mark :-)

24 comments :

  1. Absolutely nothing wrong or cheating with pots. Let's face it us exotic nuts are creating a theatrical theme and the props we use are often non hardy plants. In the most perfect garden one would have every single plant plunged into a bed of peat/gravel and all would be removed to an enormous glasshouse in winter. Will Giles :-) http://www.exoticgarden.com/

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    1. That's so true Don. Non hardy specimens dotted around can help reinforce the tropical feel especially on the type of gardening we both have :)

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  2. I think I need to get myself some black pots! Actually, I'm relying more and more on pots to fill the holes created by drought-related deaths in my garden - the pots can be given extra water the rest of the border doesn't need (and shouldn't be given if I'm going to stay on the good side of the water service provider). I'm using some inexpensive annuals as fillers too.

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    1. Annuals are a good too Kris! From now on any spares I'll put on black pots in case I'll need them at any point to fill in gaps, they're so much easier to blend away. And as you've said you can spot water them over doing the entire border.

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  3. I think this is a great technique, though my problem seems to be the opposite--planting things too close together and ending up with an untidy mass of plants all leaning on one another for support. At least I can't see the weeds !

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    1. We're guilty of that too Kathy but as you've said yes you won't be able to spot the weeds :)

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  4. This is one of my favorite tricks, both for filling empty spots as well as finding a place for a new "must have" plant. Glad to know you do it too!

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    1. Great minds think alike Loree :)) for new plants it gives you an idea first how they'll potentially look in a spot that you're thinking of placing them

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  5. Great trick, one that I used earlier this year. Sometimes a rock or empty attractive pot works in a pinch too.

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    1. Good idea too Alan, goes with the principle of ornamentation too!

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  6. Gaps are great, they're justification for plant shopping. Definitely not cheating - think about all the photos you see of interiors, they're always styled and changed here and there. You've done the same, only outdoors. Until the day I get the greenhouse of my dreams I'll be forever lugging pots to and fro with the changing of the seasons to suit the precious little darlings.

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    1. Absolutely Amy! Even without a greenhouse you can at least use most of your potted beauties as mobile display.

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  7. In complete agreement! I like moving big potted agaves in amongst a busy midsummer garden to provide some much-needed backbone, and wonderful when the grasses are filled in.

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    1. Potted agaves makes such great, architectural points in a border Denise, great idea!

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  8. Great minds think alike :) I've bought a few gap filler plants today - having replanted a couple of beds they're still filling out, so some late summer cheer was just what was needed! Besides, who can resist a garden voucher that comes through the door which says 'Half price plant' on it ;)

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    1. Half price vouchers and plant sales, they're such treats that are so hard to resist Michelle! These gap fillers are just what's needed while waiting for newly planted borders to fill up :)

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  9. We're all sort of magicians anyway, so a little slight-of-hand is to be expected, don't you think?

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  10. Just as I say 'right that's it no more plants this year' I'll notice that there always seems to be a gap to fill in the garden. The jungle area is looking great guys.

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    1. Thanks Paul! Gaps are great opportunities for plant shopping!

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  11. You always manage to create a lovely area with your empty spaces. Rocks are another cool thing to add in to break things up and can easily be moved to.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Indeed Cher, instant garden art too :)

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  12. Plants in pots are great gap fillers, and easier to move too, given how frequently I find myself moving things I have planted, I should leave them in pots for longer!

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    1. Some plants can stay in pots almost permanently as a mobile display Janet :)

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