How To Have Brilliant Borders

How To Have Brilliant Borders

Add some brilliant colour to your garden or patio this summer by planting up an exciting border or sprucing up a dull corner. You may have a section of border that needs revamping or space for the creation of a new bed; possibly by taking up a small section of patio or creating a container border. Creating a bed or border bursting with colour and interest all year round is easy. Just follow our step-by-step guide to ensure your plants get off to a good start and thrive for many years to come.

How to plant up a border

Ground Work - Start by removing any large stones and weeds, especially deep-rooted types like dandelions and dock.

Soil Preparation - Buy large bags of well-rotted farmyard manure and use a garden fork to incorporate one bag per square metre into the top 15cm (6in) of soil. This helps to improve soil texture and releases valuable plant nutrients.

Natural Selection - Water the plants well, and then set them out, still in their pots, to see how they will look in the bed once planted. Check plant labels for final heights and spreads and place the largest at the back. Groups of three or more of the same type of plant look most natural.

All-purpose Addition - For each plant, dig a hole twice as wide and a bit deeper than the plant pot. Put some all-purpose granular fertiliser, such as Growmore, in the hole and excavated soil. Use the amount recommended on the pack.

Plant & Water - Slip the plant from its pot and place it in the hole. Add or remove soil from the bottom of the hole to ensure that the plant will be at the same depth in the soil after planting as it was in its original pot. Fill in around the plant with soil and firm in well with your hand or ball of your foot to remove any air pockets. Water well with a watering can fitted with a rose, or a hose on a gentle spray setting.

Finishing Off - When you have planted up the whole bed, give it a final water and then add a mulch, covering the soil around the plants with a 5cm (2in) layer of bark chips or well-rotted manure, keeping it clear of the plant stems.

Plants to add height in the garden or patio

To add some height to the border or patio try adding some summer flowering clematis. The new clematis range from renowned specialist Raymond Evison is a great choice for large pots or tubs on a patio. Simply fill containers with John Innes No. 2 compost and plant one clematis in each pot, together with a decorative obelisk to support the flexible stems. Alternatively, make a small flower bed for them close to the house and fix a supporting trellis to the wall. The new Raymond Evison clematis are ‘Zara’ (above), a compact form that produces large, pale-blue flowers with contrasting yellow centres over a long period in summer; ‘Alaina’ (top image), which is happy on a shady patio where the deep creamy-pink flowers with slightly twisted petals will not fade prematurely; and the beautiful pale-pink ‘The Countess of Wessex’, the flowers of which have frilly edges and a contrasting deep- red central boss of anthers.

Plants for a sunny, south-facing garden with very sandy soil

There are many beautiful plants that love a warm site with free-draining sandy soil. The decorative tree heath, Erica arborea ‘Albert’s Gold’, is a good choice for year-round colour. This medium-sized evergreen shrub grows to about a metre in height, and makes a wonderful backdrop to spring bulbs and summer flowers with its golden-yellow young foliage, which then turns green as it matures. Other pretty plants for a gravel garden or alpine bed are the sea thrift, Armeria maritima splendens (below), and the diminutive Lithodora ‘Heavenly Blue’. Both are evergreen and drought tolerant. The sea thrift produces tufts of grassy foliage and round heads of tiny reddish-purple flowers in late spring and  summer, while Lithodora forms a mat of small leaves sprinkled with a mass of bright-blue flowers from May to July.

Easy-care plants for a garden that only gets sun for part of the day

Some of the easiest and most reliable plants for partial shade are hardy geraniums. There’s a huge range to choose from, but one of the best is Geranium Rozanne, which has a spreading habit and grows to about 50cm (20in) high. It has velvety deciduous foliage and is covered with violet blue flowers with white centres from late spring to the first frosts. If you need a more substantial plant, opt for Photinia x fraseri ‘Pink Marble’. Photinias are evergreen shrubs and the leaves of this new form are reddish green with deep pink edges when they open, maturing to rich green with white edges and white splashes on the surface. As the leaves mature at different rates on the same plant the multicoloured effect is really dramatic.

Scented plants for a seating area in the garden

Surround a sunny patio with a range of lavenders. Try combining traditional English lavender with French types, such as Lavender stoechas ‘Victory’. This dwarf form is compact and ideal for beds or containers, offering masses of fragrant purple flowers topped by mauve bracts that resemble small feathers from June to September. For perfume earlier in the year, include the beautiful shrub, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’, which flowers in March and April. It grows happily in shade or dappled sunlight and has an upright branching habit with handsome creamy-yellow-edged evergreen leaves, and small tubular, fragrant flowers. All of these plants dislike waterlogged clay soil.

A classic cottage garden border

Lupins, peonies, lavender and roses are perfect for a classic cottage garden border. Plant them in rich, moisture-retentive soil. We recommend Lupin ‘Masterpiece’ (shown), which has deep-purple flowers and blooms from May to June in sun or part shade. Partner it with Paeonia lactiflora, with its deeply cut foliage and large early summer blooms. Choose from ‘Barrington Belle’, with cherry-red blooms, the pink-flowered ‘Dancing Butterfly’, or ‘Duchesse de Nemours’, which produces wonderfully fragrant white blooms.

Get creative with colour

For an easy, cost-effective way to transform your garden take a natural wooden arbour or trellis and add some colourful paint, plants and accessories. This creates an oasis of calm to relax in after a hard day’s work & is a great focal point in the garden.

Serene green and cream

Its association with peace and tranquillity makes white the perfect choice if you want to create a calm, quiet corner in your garden. Combine it with the freshness of green and you’ve got a natural place to relax on a summer evening and feel the stress of the day just melt away. Here we’ve painted a Cadiz arbour in soft green and cool cream (painted with Old English Green and Country Cream from the Cuprinol paint range).

Arranged alongside the Caffe Latte Tea for Two table and chairs, and with a pretty white lamp, the pale accessories make the colours of the plants seem more vivid and help create a feeling of space. Try planting the evergreen climber Clematis ‘Avalanche’, pure white roses such as ‘Iceberg’ & citrus-scented Philadelphus.

A bold statement in red

A splash of red will brighten up your garden in any season. It’s a bold, vibrant shade that represents energy and excitement, but can also be welcoming and cosy when used in a small space. In autumn, when the leaves start to turn red, the area will be surrounded by rich, warm colours. Supplied unpainted and untreated, the Ultima pergola and Hidcote Lattice Panels shown here are perfect for making a dramatic entrance or dividing your garden into distinct areas (painted with Terracotta from the Cuprinol paint range). Add red-toned accessories and terracotta flower pots and your garden will look bright and cheerful no matter what the weather. Try planting pillarbox red Clematis ‘Rebecca’, Lupinus ‘Red Rum’ & spiky scarlet Callistemons.

Cool, calm blue

Complement lavender, lilacs and forget-me-nots with a beautiful blue-toned display. This classically designed Blenheim arbour will provide the perfect spot from which to enjoy your garden, and because it is supplied in natural wood it can be customised to suit your garden’s style (painted with Iris & Country Cream from the Cuprinol paint range). The simple design provides an elegant focal point, and you can encourage climbing plants up the latticed sides for added interest. Try planting deep-blue California lilac, pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ & bee favourite scabious.

However you decide to brighten up your garden have fun doing it & enjoy the rest of the summer relaxing in it!

Profile Image Angela Slater

Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.