How to make a carpet bed
Every year, the gardens at Waddesdon Manor, in Buckinghamshire, come alive with ‘carpet beds’ – pictures created with bedding plants. Gardens Manager Paul Farnell explains how to make your own.
Choose a space
You’ll need an area of flat ground; either a raised bed or a bed created in a lawn. If space is limited, you could use a shallow pot or planter.
Create a design
Draw a rough diagram of your design. Seeing the colours side by side on paper will help you see the overall effect you’ll create when the bed is planted. You could try a spiral pattern which works well with about 20 plants, or get creative and design something yourself.
Select your plants
Many plug plants and alpine plants are ideal for carpet bedding. We love alternanthera (‘joyweed’), which comes in green, yellow, red and pink shades.
Mark out your design
Use sand or garden twine to make your picture. Garden twine is good for marking out straight lines, while sand is better for rounded edges. For larger areas, marking out a grid on the bed will help keep things in proportion and keep your design clear.
Position the plants very close together. They need to be almost touching to create the effect of a growing carpet. Start at the top and work backwards so you can smooth out footmarks as you go. If it’s a large bed, stand on a board to distribute your weight.
Once your bed is planted, water well and regularly for the first two to three weeks to help the plants establish. Then water when the bed becomes dry. You may need to trim the bed with topiary shears or sharp secateurs two or three times during the growing season to keep the pattern sharp.