I was discussing with a client today why we plant as we do, why when choosing, what goes where in the garden and how many, why we do not plant in twos and why when picking a border do we chose what we do. Thats a lot of questions so here goes with some of the answers!
When it comes to choosing plants we need to learn to love colour, because the days of the pastel English country garden that looks like a watercolour painting have largely gone. Try to avoid planting only one of each thing as this will resemble a pincushion of dots. Far better to plant in threes, fives or sevens, always odd numbers, and avoid forming cloud-like blobs. Make a triangular shape, or a narrow ribbon that looks like its waving in the wind. This is much more pleasing on the eye.
Embrace orange and lime shades because they make blue and purple more vibrant, especially in evening light. Salvias and delphiniums add splashes of blue/purple and if contrasted with Geums, Crocosmia or even the lime greens of euphorbia or alchemilla mollis create a pleasing riot of summer colour. Grasses always add movement and some give a year-long presence. They also unify a scheme when woven through a mixed border. One of my current favourites is Pennisetum Red Ponytails, a lovely grass with mounds of bright green foliage & topped with large bottlebrush like flowers which open distinctly red fading through purple shades to beige, it look stunning teamed with alliums, the clean, minimalist style of this grass makes it a good choice for formal courtyards or in minimalist urban planters.
At this time of year the Peony is the highlight of the garden, I have both pink and creamy white threatening to progress from their tight balls of buds into the most magnificent of flowers and like any of the most magnificent flowers they catch us off guard when they burst into flower as they are fleeting but so worth it. My favourite climber is the wonderful evergreen Jasmine which has the most stunning fragrance from its tiny but abundant star like flowers, such a dreamy plant with a big impact, memories of holidaying in a little Italian seaside town down near Rome where I walked past garden after garden that had used this plant to look like a front hedge and the smell still stays with me. I have planted this stunner close to where I park the car so that smell hits me when I get out especially when the sun is like it has been recently.
Another favourite is the Geranium Johnsons Blue, it has handsome, weed-smothering foliage, but its large blue, saucer-shaped flowers, which put on a profuse and prolonged summer that steal the show. It mingles easily with its neighbours without becoming too boisterous or floppy, and it is resistant to pests and diseases. I’m also newly converted to the Sea Holly plant and have had my head turned by Eryngium Blue Glitter, this award-winning (well-earned!) variety has most of the features one could hope for in a garden plant for amateurs. A true perennial, it has strong, erect stems that are an ornamentally attractive silver-blue in colour. These divide and divide again more than once to give innumerable small, shimmering blue pincushions all in a ready made flower arrangement. This is a plant to add strength and colour to your border.
So now that I’ve given you some ideas for the garden, no excuse for you not to get out and this weather has been just the best but let’s hope we get a bit of night time rain to keep the gardens happy.