Designing a Border from Scratch  (Part 3)

In February we were joined by Lucy Hartley a garden designer from Warwickshire. We have had, of course, two previous talks by Lucy on designing borders so this was the final installment.  In earlier talks Lucy had outlined basic design essentials and had discussed low maintenance plants.  Her third talk featured plant choices and plant combinations for a year round border.  The main message was to layer plants so that as one goes over another will come to the fore …

Lucy started her talk by discussing the importance of winter evergreens in providing structure.  These plants hold the garden together and Lucy showed examples from her own garden and others that she had designed.  She suggested that for low maintenance slow growing evergreens were best and her suggestions included holly, pittosporum, mahonia, yew, choisya and euonymus.  For sunny borders she suggested the more Mediterranean evergreens such as bay, hebe, lavender and rosemary.  Grasses also  provide a good winter picture and are low maintenance.  The shorter varieties can be combed through in the spring to remove dead foliage and the taller varieties cut back in mid February to mid March.  Many of the perennials which are traditionally planted with grasses look good even when their flowers are fading.  It is always good to leave seed heads over winter for the birds.

Once the evergreens are in place then Lucy suggested a succession of emerging plants.  It is important to choose carefully however as some plants do not like being crowded and other plants have large untidy leaves that will ruin the effect in an all year round border.  Lucy gave as an example alliums as many of the larger varieties can be untidy and recommended allium sphaerocephalon as it flowers in July, has small oval shaped flowers and small leaves which will not detract from the other plants.  Many tulips flower too late for year round borders and Lucy suggested species tulips which flower earlier than most.  Bulbs planted under deciduous shrubs provide interest.  Daffodils with crocosmia, muscari with anemone blanda and cyclamen coum are all good under shrubs.  As with pulmonaria and primula these plants will not mind being shaded out later in the season when they have finished flowering.  Lucy certainly knows her plants and many thanks to her for providing us with such useful recommendations for our borders.

We look forward to returning to the Village Hall for our next meeting on March 15th at 7.30 pm.  We invite you all to join us for Colin Ward’s talk on Ferns “Fifty Shades of Green.”  Details can be found on our website.  The meeting will be open to all     members, new members and visitors and if you have not yet renewed your subscription for membership of the BGA for 2022 you can do so at this meeting.    

                                                                                                          Linda Truscott

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