A Planting Scheme for a Summer Border

Garden Fence Border with Pink Roses

It is often difficult to keep the borders in your garden looking good all summer. Roses are at their best in high summer and then look tired after flowering, other perennials only flower for short periods and then leave a gap in the border. A well known tip is to infill gaps in a border with colourful annuals, but here is a short planting plan that is guaranteed to provide your borders with colour all summer long and into autumn.

The best plants to go for in any border are those that have a reputation for being reliable. Evergreens and those that provide ground cover all year round will anchor any planting scheme and provide structure for you to work around with colour and shape. Plants like box are very popular and can be cut into various interesting shapes. Skimmia ‘Kew Green’ is great for larger borders and will provide scented flowers in winter/early spring. Grasses also look good in winter as long as the weather is not too wet. Plant them with lavender for spectacular effect in summer.

For those plants that start early in the year, choose cyclamen under larger shrubs, alongside snowdrops. Add scillas and dwarf iris for continuous colour into February and March. There are some plants that look good even when they have stopped flowering. Acanthus planted in a shady spot has good foliage, as does agapanthus. Another good tip is to use plants with long flowering seasons. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is a particular favourite with blue/mauve flowers that continue well int autumn. Valerian is another perennial with a long flowering season in red or white. Japanese anemones will provide a bed of colour in late summer that will last into autumn.

No summer border is complete without those plants that give real star performance in terms of impact. Roses have to be a firm favourite. Go for old English varieties that have repeat flowering patterns and plenty of intoxicating scent. ‘Munstead Wood’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ have the old fashioned flower shapes and plenty of fragrance. Dahlias have traditionally had a rather uncool reputation but for me are a real must in the summer border, providing a good three months of continuous flower if staked and looked after properly. They do however need lifting and protecting during the winter months. To make this easier, why not try growing them in garden planters and placing them in the middle of borders to fill gaps when other plants have finished flowering.

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