Great workshop yesterday with Annette head tutor from Waterperry Gardens. Despite the sudden onset of deep winter with snow and freezing temperatures we were able to huddle by the heater with blankets and hot drinks and focus on all the elements the come together to make a successful perennial border. Thankfully by the afternoon we were able to venture outside and relate our tuition to a real garden.
We began 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.
The positioning of plants according to what season they will provide interest was also considered. 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 is truly dominated by a large weeping willow under which I have now planted woodland plants, such as ferns,hostas,bluebells,primula,
aquilegia,dicenta 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 beach 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 margurite on top of the man hole cove you are trying to hide choose a dark red hebe or similar!
Anette 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 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 develope your garden planting you may enjoy our workshop with celebrated garden designer Caroline Tait later in May. Border Design >>