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This border runs alongside either side of the stream that leads down to the pond. They were created to showcase the wide range of plants that thrive in low pH conditions. Being across the path from the Heather Garden makes this area quite interesting for anyone with an acidic soil.

In the Ericaceous Border we have a wide range of dwarf rhododendrons and azaleas - we couldn't possibly have this type of border without them. They have really established themselves in this bed and they look wonderful in early spring. Planted in amongst them is Prunus serrula (Tibetan Cherry). The bark has a lovely polished finish; a reddish chestnut colour that peels off in layers. It is absolutely stunning, especially in the low winter sun.

Other plants in these borders include Enkianthus, Arctostaphylos, Pieris and for ground cover a range of gentians which flower in the most intense blue imaginable.

Some might say that an ericaceous border has two quite brief periods of interest. Jim tackled this problem in 2003 when he planted a range of lilies that flower in summer and they are exquisite. They rise amongst the shrubs and seem to be doing really well in these borders.

An ericaceous border or garden can be created relatively easily, as long as the soil is prepared properly. Soil pH can be adjusted but if your garden has a particularly high pH it might be worthwhile using containers to grow ericaceous plants instead. Sulphur chips will lower pH but may need to be topped up. Use a pH testing kit to check the soil if your plants are starting to look a bit yellow. Like the Heather Garden, it's not necessary to use lots of peat to create this type of border. Using mulches of composted bark to help keep the moisture in is good, as is a mulch of seaweed if you live near the sea. One point to remember though, is that rhododendrons and azaleas in particular don't like to have mulches applied right up to their collars. Always make sure they have a bit of breathing space, then they won't rot at the neck. Use a slow release fertiliser once a year but make sure it's one specifically formulated for ericaceous plants - it'll really help you get the most from your plants.

For more information on testing your soil, check out the Macaulay Institute.