Tuesday 24 April 2018

Bountiful borders

There's plenty of choice for a colourful display, says Marie Staunton

Marie Staunton

I'm a bit of a magpie when it comes to planting up my herbaceous border; everything bar the kitchen sink goes in. If you were being kind, you would say it's very colourful, and full of all things bright and beautiful – and that is exactly the way I like it.

There is one thing for sure: I will never be tidy, or indeed overly concerned about what people think of my efforts. When I'm relaxing in my deckchair of an evening, sipping a little glass of vino, listening to the birds settling down, it's exactly what I want out of my garden – organised chaos.


If you can get a little bit of dead-heading done and a quick tidy around before all of the madness of the day starts, then that's good enough in my book. The Blossom with Every Breath: The Cystic Fibrosis Garden, designed by Ericka Reeves, featured at the Bloom festival this year was, for me, one of the most beautifully planted of all herbaceous gardens on display. Early summer gardens have an advantage over those later in the season because the planting is fresh, lush and strong in colour. Then, as the season goes on, colours tend to fade until dahlias and helenium come into their own.

When planting up a border, we sometimes neglect the foliage plants in favour of the showier flowering ones, and this can be a mistake. Hostas and heucheras don't have big blousy flowers, but they are great little fillers and give the border a bit of maturity early on in the season.

Alchemilla mollis – or Lady's mantle, as it is commonly known – alongside a dark pink dianthus or even Geranium Johnson's Blue will give a wonderful display in July.

A lot of gardeners are reluctant to add hosta to a herbaceous bed because of the problem with slugs, but a bit of planning can go a long way to sorting the problem out. Just as the new shoots are starting to appear, circle them with some copper wire.

If you don't have a problem using slug pellets then sprinkle them around the emerging shoots before the hosta comes into full leaf. I mentioned before that I spray my roses with a garlic wash, and it wouldn't do the hostas any harm either.

Iris is a flower that is close to my heart, and there are so many to choose from that the iris season can stretch from May into winter. Foxgloves are always welcome in my garden; they seed themselves around in all sorts of places, which is fine by me.

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