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Monday, 30 April 2018

How To Plan Your Perennial Border

How Do You Get Started Planting Your Borders?
Firstly Look At Lots Of Pictures In Gardening Magazines And Books

Get an idea of what you like. What sort of out garden are you looking for? A cottage garden look, Japanese, Mediterranean, minimal, beachy, wild. There are so many styles. Peer over the garden fence look for clues and ideas see what is growing in next doors garden. Are roses thriving or are have they had success with rhododendrons which would indicate a less limy soil?  What trees are growing well, and do you like them?  To copy a few successes would be  the best form of flattery.

Before you start work out how you are going to use your garden. Where are you going to sit and have morning coffee and your evening barbecue? You are going to select spots where it is sunny at the right time of day. When you know where you going how will you walk back to the french window or main access. Do you need a path and will you be planting round it and arching over it?

Begin with the type of soil in the border. Looking at structure, drainage and  acidity or alkalinity and how to work with the parameters you have for the best florisity.
Create vistas where you can and a canvas of foliage colour.
The positioning of plants according to what season they will provide interest is a big consideration. Ideally putting spring bulbs at the back where the fading tatty foliage may be concealed by plants with later summer interest.

Pay attention to the main anchor plants you have that sustain all round interest and architectural structure this is compulsory. Remember to allow different seasons of interest to grow up your fences and wall these are not taking space out of what may be a limited space in your border. Perhaps they may suit spring interest to enjoy before the plants grow to foil the boundary. Make sure you have enough strong shapes and forms and evergreens. These are the plants and trees that bring shape and character and dominate the space often determine light and shade areas. 


My garden was truly dominated by a large weeping willow. Now substantially reduced as Peter pollarded it a year ago. Under the tree  I have now planted woodland plants, such as ferns, hostas, bluebells, primula, aquilegia, dicentra and Solomon's Seal.

I am also very fond of my Betula 'Youngii'  with a contrived gnarled form and great silver bark and soft leaves. The silver tones encouraged me to under plant with Stachys 'Byzantina' interlaced with blue cranes bill geraniums and a scattering of earlier flowering white allium bulbs, thus proving a succession of all year round interest. Other parameter I have created include an single arch of Dawycks Purple column beech trees and an arch of pendula silver birch.

Silver and white breaks will help the dominating bold colours flow more smoothly throughout a garden,providing a break and reducing clashes. Notice also that the strong vivid bright primary colours will bring your garden into focus but can also shrink it, bring the back fence closer to the house when a softer colour may have created more of an illusion of space. I am keen on using very dark tones to frame the space allowing things like dark sambucus recede and highlighting with silver and white, which will draw your eye. Hence I always say do not put a big white marguerite on top of the man hole cover you are trying to hide choose a dark red hebe or similar!
You may have noticed pale colours look more vivid in low light areas and bright colours work best in sunny areas.

Anette head tutor from Waterperry who has help many workshops here suggested keeping a calender of what you have of interest in different seasons. If you can you this when you are planning for the year ahead and everything looks like cabbages it will help. Photographs of different seasons will also help as we soon forget.

My final bit of advice is to plant enough of the plants you want to enjoy and don't loose impact at the expense of variety. Rather than adding new varieties I have concentrated on adding more of those that thrive, like my cranes bill geraniums and centranthus with a good dose of late summer asters and anemones.
If your would like more ideas on how to develop your garden planting you may enjoy our garden design coming in 2019. We will also be having Annette from Waterperry looking at border management in the spring and garden author and teacher Andrew Mikolajski will be back to look at right plant right place.

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