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A Year In The Life Of A Sunny Border


By AndrewR


Last November, I published a blog showing the changes in a border in my back garden over the course of a growing season. This year, I thought I’d show you another border, this time from the front.

The area on display is about eighteen feet long and six feet deep. It faces due west but gets the sun from quite early in the day right through till sunset. The soil is slightly acid and heavy clay with lots of grit incorporated to improve the drainage. There are three shrubs at the back to give some structure but it is mostly planted with perennials and bulbs.

As with the rest of my garden, nothing is cut back until the spring as I think the top growth helps protect the roots from the worst of the winter weather. This was especially true after the winter we experienced.

All the perennials have been tidied and two of the shrubs cut back. Potentilla alba and muscari are the first to flower

Ribes odoratum in the centre is an early riser and potentilla alba is really into its stride along with self-sown forget-me-nots, waldsteinia ternata (yellow flowers on the right) and a few other bulbs

MID MAY 2010
The first alliums are getting in on the act. The colour scheme is supposed to be blue, yellow and white but some purple ones have managed to get in there someohow

Still not too much in bloom here. On the left, tropaeolum polyphyllum trails over a prostrate conifer; its tubers are planted under the latter to receive sufficient protection from frost. The grey-leaved shrub, gomphostigma virginatum has started into growth at last while beside it, the grass calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ has already shot up several feet.

At last there is good colour here from fennel, coreopsis, anthemis, leucanthemum and a dwarf helenium. Two playcodons have managed a flower each while convolvulus sabaticus (centre, front edge) opens its blue flowers in sunny weather

White flowers are provided by anaphalis in the centre while the shrub cestrum parqui, which was cut right back to ground level by the frosts, has made five feet of growth and carries it yellow flowers. Regular deadheading of the anthemis and helenium keep their blooms going for many weeks

Some blue is now provided by a caryopteris (far left) and salvia guaranatica (which is overwintered indoors and planted out in May)

The stalwarts – anthemis, helenium, anaphalis and cestrum – carry on and a white-flowered sedum adds late colour

Looking at these pictures, I can see it is July before this border really gets going. It needs narcissus and tulips for spring colour and then more alliums to carry it earlier in the season, but then keeps going well into autumn. Now, where’s that bulb catalogue?

More blog posts by AndrewR

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that is a great record andrew, i have tried to do similar in my garden but often got distracted by individual plants.
i think it must be the best way to improve the look of a border.

1 Nov, 2010


It is interesting to see the changes over the months, Andrew and it does help you develop the garden with more colour once you have a record like this...great idea.

You'll need to get bulbs in quickly....spring isn't that far away (she says wistfully!!)

1 Nov, 2010


I agree. It also confirms my opinion that Coreopsis is a real stalwart in any border, going on and on throughout summer.
Your idea for more bulbs is good Andrew, and what about hardy geraniums?
You are certainly well organised.

1 Nov, 2010


thats lovely and as w.l. says interesting , i look back at mine and think wow i did that so gratifying isent it ;0)))

1 Nov, 2010


Great looking border Andrew, I have to admit my beds are better since being on Goy because I can do exactly what you are showing here and now know when and where to add things instead of relying on my memory. Its always good to see what others have in the various beds to get more ideas... Thankyou for showing yours through the seasons......

1 Nov, 2010


Isn't Nature marvellous ... the way plants spring back to life after such a harsh Winter ... I really enjoyed seing this garden through the months. I do wish I could grow Coreopsis ... lost 3 plants in as many years !

1 Nov, 2010


It is such a good idea to take pictures of your borders, because then you see them through another's eyes, and you can correct mistakes before they become disasters, have made a video of ours with my mobile and it will be on my computer, I can also see what plants are missing, after a bad winter.
I admire the way you have planted something for each season, very interesting and well thought out Andrew....

1 Nov, 2010


Great to see it changing Andrew, and can I tentatively suggest Clematis Macropetala for it's lovely early bright blue and white flowers? It's amazing how long it takes before the borders really fill out isn't it? I noticed that too, when I looked back at my spring photos.

1 Nov, 2010


does that clematis grow in shade?

1 Nov, 2010


Yes, macropetala will tolerate shade.

1 Nov, 2010


A beautifully constructed border, and thank you so much for identifying all your plants Andrew - it helps us amateurs so much, especially as we can see them through the growing season.

1 Nov, 2010


Mad - there is a small hardy geranium somewhere in there with white flowers but it hasn't showed up in any of the photos. But a blue one for early colour would be a good idea - thank you.

Shirley - coreopsis like really well-drained soil; try adding lots of horticultural grit under it and mixing more grit with the soil you use to refill the planting hole.

Stroller - I think it's always useful to have something in a border that flowers for a really long period - keeps the colour going when other things are fading out. The dwarf helenium (H. pumilum 'Magnificum') has been in flower for four months and just needs a little support and fairly regular deadheading (once or twice a week). Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' is also a favourite and a good 'doer' for keeping the colour going late into the year

1 Nov, 2010


Many thanks for that info. Andrew, Sussex clay is a pain for some plants !

1 Nov, 2010


I think May looks good too. It has a more limited colour range but, really nice. Some spring bulbs are always a joy to see after a quiet winter.

1 Nov, 2010

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