Have you heard of this most wonderful discovery? The answer to all our garden woes, ladies and gentlemen! I give you…… www.gardenonaroll.com.
How it started
Garden on a roll is the brainchild of Antony Henn who was raised helping his parents run a garden centre and has compost flowing through his veins. Turning his hand to professional garden design in the 1990s and then gardening on TV, Antony took pity on us novice gardeners in 2009 when he set up Garden on a Roll.
Antony was inspired whilst helping a school plant a garden. He drew circles and letters on wallpaper to mark where to plant so for the children it was like ‘planting by letter’. After 2 years of product testing the biodegradable, weed-suppressing paper and plant combinations the entrepreneurial gardener launched his new business.
Supporting the military
Very generously, Antony has offered military gardeners a 15% discount (use code 15OFFGOAR), he gave us free boxes to give away in the army, navy and RAF federation magazines and the opportunity to run a tri-service competition to find a worthy candidate for Antony himself to come and plant a box in their garden. What a guy!
How it works
The order is delivered in a box to your door and includes gardening gloves, a trowel and chicken manure pellets to give the plants a boosting feed when you first put them in the ground. There’s also a tote bag so you can remember to tell all your friends about this brilliant idea when you are out and about!
The website is very easy to use so you choose one of the eight herbaceous border styles that you think would suit your garden. We have looked at them all and believe they would all work in SFA settings. There are five widths to choose from between 40-150cm and lengths start at 2m going up in 1m intervals.
Having recovered from the sheer joy and overwhelming excitement of your order landing on your doorstep, you roll out the bio-degradable planting template onto your prepared area. The box contains pegs to hold the template in place so with or without the help of dogs, children and the weather you can plough on. You then match the lettered plant to the marked spot on the paper, make a hole (X marks the spot) and pop the plant in. Feed, cover the whole thing in a layer of compost, water and stand back to admire.
The plants are all grown in the UK and are a healthy size (1ltr pots) in good condition, and they will replace plants that fail, which is a guarantee of high quality plants. This is critical to the success of the scheme as the borders are semi-mature in 2 years so the plants are ready to make an impact within a very short space of time. This is good news for those of us on short posting cycles!
There are 8 border styles to choose from, all of which would be suitable in an SFA (or anywhere to be honest – your own home, outside the welfare centre, in front of the mess….). Shady, sunny, wildlife, English cottage, Mediterranean, evergreen shady, evergreen sunny and sensory. All have many features to recommend them and there’s something for every setting. All border styles have interesting features all year around and will grow into a fully stocked herbaceous border.
This last comment is important because one of the problems most of us have is that we see a pretty plant in the summer, pop it and a couple of others in the ground in June and then by November there’s nothing much to look at. By the time we move out, the strimmer goes straight through our efforts because there’s so little to show for it and we are all back to square one. With multiple plants growing through a weed-suppressing layer, there’s a clearly defined border (important to separate lawn from plants to give the contractors a chance at maintenance), there’s fast growing plants making quick impact at the front and larger, slower plants at the back creating lasting structure.
There’s minimal to no weeding because the bio-degradable paper will keep the weeds at bay while the plants are small and then as they grow and cover all the earth they will naturally suppress the weeds by taking up the space and cutting out the light below. Ta da! Professional looking herbaceous border in two years. Genius!
The bottom line
What’s this going to cost? OK, let’s get down to the big question here (because ‘do I want to put in a 12ft herbaceous border into my 10ft garden’ is not the biggest question in this conversation).
The starting price is £75. That’s a box containing a 40cm wide by 2m long border (5 plants) and gloves, tool, fertiliser, biodegradable paper, pegs, tote bag and delivery. I’ve done a comparison with Dobbies Garden Centre online and the price is very similar (£75.92 in my worked example). So, in pure plant terms this is not the cheapest or the most expensive route. What you are buying is the plan and it’s package; the guaranteed high quality plants and perfect design delivered conveniently to your door with everything you need to make it possible even if you don’t own a trowel.
I have spoken to lots of people who garden their SFA, some with more success than others. Often people say they spend lots of money on plants but some don’t survive, others don’t thrive and more often than not they don’t end up with the fully stocked herbaceous border ‘look’ they were aiming for. If you are going to spend anything, this could be the answer!
For those that don’t want to spend this much, there are Gift Vouchers. Brilliant! For your birthday, for Christmas or for your regular need of a house warming present, why not direct your loving friends and family to give you a gift voucher from Garden on a Roll. By the time you move house (again, and again) you could have enough vouchers for ‘free’ plants (or a much, much bigger border)!
(And remember to use your discount code 15OFFGOAR).
PS: Since writing this article my own order has arrived and I can personally vouch for the fantastic quality of the product. The plants were in perfect health, not a twig out of place and no dried soil.
Strong, healthy roots; nothing was pot bound. It was easy – and fun – to plant, making an instant impact and already growing well in the current warm, wet May conditions.
I was given gift vouchers for my birthday and this was also easy for the purchasers, and highly effective for me!