If you move into a house and you get an already established garden to go with it, that’s fabulous. But, if all you can see are weeds and tired lawns and you want to add your own touch of colour to the outdoor space, then borders are the best way to achieve this. Borders not only add colour but extra dimensions of height and width and can really bring your garden to life. If you are a novice however, choosing the right flowers and deciding where to place them can be a little daunting.
Typically a flower border will travel around the edge of your garden but you can have them in the middle surrounding beds or water features. The best way to get the most out of a border is to be organised in the planning and not just scatter seeds in the hope that something magical will appear (unless you want a ‘meadow’ type feel). Plant taller flowers at the back, medium height flowers in front of these and then finish off with the small, cute flowers at the edges. Take a look at our categories which will help you decided how to plant out your borders.
Tall plants that look great against the back of a fence or hedge include giant foxgloves; these have long tall stems adorned with large spotted flowers and blotches of dark colours in their throats. They are perfect for the back of a cottage-style as they grow to an estimated height of 180cm. Culver’s Root is a hardy perennial from the Alan Titchmarsh collection that grows to a height of 2m. This beautiful and ethereal, unusual and rare perennial has tiered foliage and tall, candelabra-like spikes of flowers in glowing lavender blue.
This plant is great for making an impression in the garden towards the end of summer. Hyssops are another great tall border plant and this one ‘Blue Fortune’ produces spikes of powder-blue flowers held over large, deep green foliage. The plant stands approximately 36 inches tall with a mature width of 18 inches. Peak bloom occurs in midsummer when butterflies are plentiful. Other tall border plants to consider at the back are lupins, spirea, alliums, junipers and much more.
Plants that will enhance and beautify the middle of your borders need to be around 60 – 100cm in height and one such plant is the hardy perennial, Primula Candelabra Hybrids, with a height of 60cm. With statuesque tiers of delicate florets, these are produced on tall sturdy stems. These exquisite flowers are ideal for damp, shady spots and simply stunning in large groups around bog gardens and woodlands. Hebes are a very well used plant for the middle of your borders and there are planty of different varieties.
We love this ‘Mid Summer Beauty’ as it is often used as reliable mid border ‘filler’, where it can be relied upon to establish quickly and put on an early show of distinctive deep blue summer blossom. When it has done flowering it will form a dense habit with shiny knitted foliage. Marigolds are fantastic plants if you require quick results with a minimum of fuss. These plants will seed and spread quickly and easily. They also provide a great burst of orange colour and height at around 60cm. Other medium sized plants to consider are ceanothus, Japanese Quince, globe thistles, poppies and cornflowers.
To make sure that your plants at the edges of your borders do not overpower the ones behind them, you need to look for plants that spread outwards or have a limited height of around 50cm. Most types of Rock Rose do just that, they are a low growing and spreading plant, used mainly for edges of borders and they grow to up to 50cm height. The Rock Rose will tolerate such tough dry conditions yet continue to produce blossom for so long and with such impact.
The Campanula Bellflower flourishes on most decent free drained garden soils, hugging the ground as it spreads across. It can be planted in full sun or light shade. It is low growing and creeping and very low maintenance and fast to grow. The beautiful Knotweed is a low border plant used for edging and ground cover that grows upto to 50cm in height. It prefers any moist and relatively fertile, and will flourish in full sun or part shade. Makes great ground cover for shady areas, but beware of invasive roots.
Other smaller plants include osteospermums, ericas, heathers, salvias and many herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary and even lavender. Remember to start at the back with your taller plants and also check colour schemes and timing of flowering.