Creating a flower border is very similar to painting a wonderful impressionist picture – but this time we are using living colours! There is nothing more rewarding than establishing a habitat for our beloved plants, where the diverse selection of perennials can enhance each other, inviting wildlife into our garden from buzzing bees through subtle butterflies to singing little birds.
- Tall Perennials
If you really want to shine, you must stand out – this was probably the motivation for some of the stunning perennials like Digitalis and Acanthus. A really eye-catching spiky flower can make all the difference colour-wise – their flowering period is usually quite short, so make sure you even them out thorough the seasons. Using bulbs, like purple Alliums is also a good use of space in a border.
- Purple, white, pink – a classic combo
Purple and white is one of the most commonly used colour combinations in a border – it is subtle yet powerful, and very pleasing to the eye. Adding some extra tones, like pinks or light blues will make it even more harmonious.
- Plants with the same flowering time
This where you can really shine in planting design: make sure you choose the right colour next to each other if the plants have the same flowering period. Astrantias with Sisyrinchiums, Campanulas with Alchemillas, Echinaceas with Salvias – and the list goes on. Create your own favourite combinations, and mix up the flower shapes as well.
- Using wild plants
Most garden favourites were created from their wild species. Using some of the native meadow or forest perennials can be really rewarding, as they tend to be very reliable, but moving around in your border quite a lot by self- seeding. Boragos, wild geraniums, chamomiles and forget-me-knots are all nice little additions to a border.
- Similar colours next to each other
If you like a colour very much, and would like to highlight it in your border, make sure you have many different species with the same colour tones to always have it in your border. For example once the Centranthus ruber starts to set seeds, a similar coloured species, called Penstemon ‘Garnet’ opens its beautiful bell-shaped flowering, thus adding the same tones with a little time overlap into the mix.
- Same species – different varieties
Many garden cultivars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – mixing them up in your border will give a unique collector’s vibe into your garden. Some people like creating a palette garden as well – for example showcasing all different varieties of Salvias; like the below example of Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ with Salvia ‘Caradonna’.
- Set a feature point
Some plants are just born-to-be divas, like the silvery globe artichoke: Cynara cardunculus. A big block of feature plant will give a rest to the human eye, creating a natural focal point. You can also use some evergreen shurbs to breakup the pattern of a cottage style border.
- Trailers and Spikes
Every border needs both vertical and horizontal interest: spiky or tall flowers will always give structural elements into your border, while trailers and other bushy perennials soften the overall look. Plant trailers at the edge of a raised bed as well to hide some parts of the hard landscaping.
- Mix up shades and shapes
If you only want to use one colour, make sure you mix up the shades but also the leaf shapes as well to create an interesting mix. The human can recognize more shades of green than any other colour, so even if you only have greenery can make something unique and exciting.
- Complementary colours
If you would like to create something vibrant, just stick to the basics: use colours opposite each other on the colourwheel. Purple with yellow is one of the most commonly used: plant some shades of purple plants with a few drops of yellow in a border.