Mixed borders


Mixed borders-advice for maintaining or planning your border

Mixed borders have gained popularity in the coming years, moving away from the more traditional herbaceous borders which were grown tightly together in large rectangular beds based on their colour and height with tiny flowers at the front, medium in the centre and taller 6 ft plants at the back.

Mixed borders are easier to keep and are usually mixed together with annuals, perennials, biennials, shrubs and low growing trees of similar heights but the density of the plants are chosen more carefully, more airy plants like delicate ornamental grasses and flowers on long stalks can look striking mixed with more dense plants in the flower bed and also with deciduous trees, flowering shrubs, rosebushes,lilies and hedges.

Airy plants include: Cimicifuga (feathery spikes of white flowers), Delphinium (long flower spikes of various colours), Eremurus( foxtail lily ), Echinops (globe thistle), Kniphofia (colourful flower spikes), Lobelia, Allium, Armeria, Aquilegia. Camassia, Fritillaria, bottle bush types such as pennisetum& pennisetum(fountain grass).

Dense shrubs include : Button bush, Butterfly bush, Rose of sharon, Azalea, lilac, Quince, Dentzia, Forsythia, Weigela, Cinquefoil, Shrub rose, Potentilla, Rhododendron, Viburnum, Lavender, Sage, Mallow, Phlox, Geraniums, Campanula, Hemerocallis(day lily) and tall upright pelargoniums such as P. Vitifolium & P. Denticulatum.
They can also be mixed with simplistic and architectural shaped foliage to make your border more interesting, brightly coloured or Zoned leaves can also look effective.

When planning or improving your border think about the colours, height, density, growth size and season of flowering thought the year.
The style of the border is also important so that that it blends well with the rest of the garden, such as a wild natural border, a border with similar colours such as gold-yellows, purple- blue, dark-pale pinks. A natural woodland garden with ferns, hollyhocks and bluebells, rock border with succulent type species or a border mixed with roses.
They can also be based on a certain theme as as modern, contemporary, traditional, romantic, sculptural,or based on a theme such as a rustic, Japanese, Zen, European, Mediterranean or Asian gardens.
The edging of the border can vary, the traditional brick & stone edging is the most popular because it last longer than other edging types and is usually cemented to keep them in place, although some types do tend to be more expensive and can also be part of a patio design, They can also be positioned in different ways, they can be laid diagonally, as stone edging such a flagstone and cobble stone, a natural stone wall, or you may prefer a border with hedges, wooden edging, logs or sleepers.
Wooden edging can look effective in the garden but doesn’t usually last so long as it tends to rot, but this can depend on what style you wish to achieve. Or for a more simple approach you can use cinder blocks as edging which can be cemented and painted or small metal border fence edging ,wattle fencing if you like an more rustic look.
Mixing in an organic matter such as from a compost bin into the soil of the border can help improve its quality , this can be done once a year in Spring or Autumn which can also help with drainage in the soil. You may also think about lifting plants out gently, removing any dead leaves & stems and dividing plants to stop them growing too close together every four to five years.

Ideal plants for border perennialsĀ 

Perennials are typically Spring and Summer flowering plants which die back in Autumn and Winter & then re growth occurs again in Spring, although this is not always the case. Some types still thrive throughout the Winter and can live for many years but this can also depend on temperature and location.
Perennial types include evergreen, deciduous, monocarpic, woody or herbaceous.

Evergreens are great for adding colour to the garden during the winter months such as the blue flowered Brunnera, Helleborus in various colours, Nepeta with blue grey aromatic foliage and the Stachys pink flowers on long stems.
Deciduous-When you read the word deciduous you immediately think of trees dropping their leaves in Autumn but in fact there are a few plants & shrubs which also shed their petals & fruit. Deciduous perennials include the bright yellow flowered Goldrod, the highly fragrant honeysuckle, white flowered viburnum, Grapes, wisteria & poison ivy.

Monocarpic are perennials which are short lived, they grow only to flower, produce seed and then die, these include the Acanthacease group of flowering plants, Apocynaceae, Asteraceae, Agavaceae, Araceae and Fabaceae.

Woody perennials have woody stems and roots that continue to grow after each season, these can be trees, shrubs or wood climbing plants know as lianas.
Woody perennials include rosemary, mulberry, blackberry, honeysuckle, and apple.

Herbaceous perennials have fresh green stems which are not woody and is usually a herb that is used in food or for medicinal properties, these include grasses, ferns, vines, trees, shrubs and some bamboo types.
Such as Peonies, Salvia, Poppies, Aquilegia(columbine), bananas, cone flower (echinacea), daffodils are examples of Herbaceous perennials.
Other perennials ideal for borders include: Acanthus Achillea-yarrow, Agapanthus-African lily, Anemone, Catananche-cupids dart, Cimicifuga-long flowering spikes,Eremurus-foxtail lily, Centaurea-cornflower, Chrysanthemum-daisy, Delphinium, Echinops-globe thistle, Evigeron, Lupin,Linum,Physostegia,

Photo by erda-estremera-unsplash.com

Pelargonium peltatum flowers in bloom


Two different colour flowers of pelargonium peltatum is now in bloom.

The flowers are of shades of white, pink or pale purple and each flowering stalk has 2-9 flowers.The leaves are rounded, fleshy with a slightly succulent appearance usually with a dark zone in the centre, the sap from the leaves can be taken for a sore throat & also the leaves when grinded into a paste can be appliedĀ  to scratches, light burns and wounds as an antiseptic.

peltatum is s climbing or trailing plant that likes to trail through other shrubs or trees, ideal for hanging baskets, medium sized pots or planted in the garden next to trees or trellis. It is native to South Africa in the Eastern & Western Cape where it grows in succulent shrub land and coastal areas which has both Summer and Winter rainfall.

History of Gardens -Flower Borders

birmingham-museums-trust-4lDX-xTLl3Q-unsplashPhoto by Birmingham museums trust-unsplash.com

Through the ages gardens were created for their beauty, expression, design, to create food and medicine & for making cosmetics and perfumes.

The first garden was believed to have been created in 10,000 BC in the middle east (The Levant) a Mediterranean region, the Fertile Crescent was a wide expense of land which was similar in shape to a first quarter phase of the moon, which contained wild grasses of barley and wheat so that hunter gathers would grow there own food instead of searching for miles to find it and could then live closer together in settlements.
Later when the advancement of human society began to develop gardens were more appreciated for their attractiveness and was regarded more as a luxury.
The Epic of Gilgamesh contains the earliest recorded gardens from the year 2100 BC when Uruk the ancient city of Sumer was built upon a large man made hill, the upper hill contained buildings & temples and the lower areas of the hill was said to contain gardens with ponds, orchards, date palms and fallow fields, it also had water canal irrigation systems to water plants.
From the 16th century BC the ancient Egyptians created gardens for decorative use, garden cultivation & design seen from early wall paintings containing ponds with lotus plants surrounded by lines of acacia and palm trees.

Over the centuries new garden ideas & layouts where being created, manly for the use of herbs for medicine and vegetables for providing food.
The raised border was first created during the middle ages in Europe but was restricted to monasteries and the wealthy who owned manor houses. Local saplings were woven together to create fences and filled with soil to make raised beds, usually rectangular in shape, they were used in kitchen gardens, vegetable and herb gardens and infirmary gardens.
During the Elizabethan era in England cottage gardens became fashionable and were mainly for easy access to herbs, vegetables and fruit around the cottage grounds, but also contained a variety of flowers such as old roses, hollyhocks, Sweet William, primrose, violets and calendula.
Present day cottage gardens have a mixture of different plants in a border directly outside the cottage with stone or turf pathways, this style has a natural feel with well balanced colours and various flower shapes and fragrances, sometimes mixed with long grasses, these often replaced lawns with many flowers and herbs grown close to each other to reduce the need for weeding.

The potager is a formal garden design in France, consisting of a mixture of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs grown together in borders, edging beds such as wattle fencing, containers or divided by hedges, walls or pathways. It is usually grown organically and some of the flowers are editable ideal for a kitchen garden, Pelargoniums and geraniums also grow well in this type of garden style with plants such as chives, cauliflower, broccoli, gladiolus, hyssop,
peppers, marigolds, strawberries, violets, lettuce & mallows and many more.

From the May Newsletter http://www.pelargoniumspeciesworld.com