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 perennials
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