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 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


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

Mediterranean village


In mediterranean villages the use of Pelargoniums are very popular ( although not always the species kind) and are frequently found growing over balconies and in large pots, it shows how you can make your garden more attractive by adding colour and beauty to the surroundings. These pictures were taken in the villages of Spili & Mourne in Crete, Greece which have many of these colourful plants outside the churches, cafes and restaurants.

Pelargonium triste


Pelargonium triste now has new growth after being dormant through most of the Summer.
P. triste is a Summer deciduous tuberous plant with light green carrot like leaves and  has yellow flowers which only open at night.
This plant was the first recorded pelargonium to be taken Europe, to the botanical gardens of Leiden by the VOC and could withstand long voyages by ship.

Seed catalog

I am now working on a pelargonium species world catalog which will contain information & pictures about different pelargonium species that are available to buy from the website and also which types grow best in hanging baskets,pots,window boxes or planted in the garden.
When completed you will be able to view it on the website and also as a free download so you can look though it when you would like.

I am also still working on the scented pelargonium species book and I have now written up to 40 pages, I still have two chapters to complete and the book should be available at the end of the year.
more info http://www.pelargoniumspeciesworld.com/page20.htmlcatalog book cover new lastest web watermark

scented leaves in cooking

Tea pot with cup
pelargonium tea

Scented pelargonium leaves can be used in cooking, baking, beverages,flavouring and also in icecream,meringues,liqueur, jellies and more.
Rubbing the leaves brings out the scented fragrance before it is used for your ingredients.
The flowers and leaves are edible and can be placed on top of
cakes & desserts,
Mint,Lemon & Rose scented leaves are the most popular in food flavouring but there are many more aromas to choose from.
Chopped leaves can be added to cakes,custard,milk pudding, sweet sauces and sorbet for flavouring.
They can also be used to add flavour to tea/iced tea or homemade lemonade or smoothes.

Urban gardening

Splendido balcone fiorito

If you love plants and live in the city or large town but have a limited amount of space then urban gardening is for you,
even a tiny paved area, balcony,wall,courtyard or pathway can contain many beautiful plants in a number of creative ways.
In cities around the world everyday household objects like large soup cans, plastic bottles,crates and even old guttering has been used as a cheap aturnative to grow a large number of plants which can look stylish too. Ceramic pots on raised frames give height and add more room for pots on the wall behind and also on the ground below which will fill a small area easily with colourful flowering plants.
Another type of urban gardening which is becoming more popular is vertical gardening, this is when plants are grown downwards on a wall usually by attaching a frame that contains a special water retaining fabric in which many plants can be added, grow well and looks amazing,
This idea was invented by patrick Blanc a Spanish botanist who has created many amazing projects around the world, for more infohttp://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com

Hanging baskets

peli hanging basket

Many Pelargonium species can look beautiful in a hanging basket especially the slightly trailing types such as the Pelargonium peltatum shown in the picture. Smaller pelargoniums can also be planted together in one basket to add colour to the garden and the scented varieties release lovely fragrances.
Pelargoniums ideal for hanging baskets include: P. capitatum (rose), P. grossularioides (fruit), P. mollicomum (pineapple), P. crispum (lemon), P. peltatum, P. tomentosum (mint), P. exsitipulatum among others.

Pelargonium pelatum

succulent flower

Pelargonium pelatum has beautiful pale pink slightly crinkled flowers with fleshy ivy shaped leaves,
This plant grows well in hanging baskets or on a pot on a table outside in summer.
These plants are now flowering well here in Crete and like to grow in sunny areas.

Pelargonium acraeum

p. acraeum seedling2

Pelargonium acraeum is growing well after germinating in the Autumn, it is still quite small and another new leaf is developing.
P. acraeum when fully grown has kidney shaped leaves & pretty white to pale pink flowers with darker markings which flowers over a long period of the year,
We also have many new seedlings that have germinated this spring.