I really admire beautiful mixed flower and foliage borders like the top photo here (confession – none of mine look like this), but have difficulty creating borders like this around our home. As the seasons progress; there’s either too little foliage, too few flowers, the colors don’t mix, or the textures don’t work together. To combat the problem, last year I started with a new improvement plan.
Examine the border I’m trying to improve at the beginning of each month; isolating the area seeming to need the most help at that time, and determine what the missing or wrong element is (flower, foliage, color, or texture).
Once I’ve figured out the biggest problem, I review all the perennials in our other borders to determine if anything already in the gardens could remedy the situation. Just by taking the time to take leaf and flower samples of perennials we already have, and examining them in the problem areas, has resulted in some beautiful new combinations at no cost.
If nothing we already have works, then I cut samples of the flowers and leaves surrounding the problem area in the border; and take them with me to the local garden center. Once there, I try to select a plant variety that will supply the missing element(s), while still blending harmoniously with the other plants. By visiting the local garden center monthly, I can see what’s blooming or providing seasonal interest; and have a good selection of options.
Building a relationship with the local garden center is very beneficial; they often have terrific ideas and can point out better deals or sales. This weekend, after I’d selected a variety, the salesperson pointed out that they had a few smaller plants of that variety that were much less, and suggested that since growth was fairly rapid, I might want to consider the smaller version. They also alert me to upcoming sales, so I’ve saved a lot by working with my favorite garden center.
I’m still not naturally good at building stunning borders, but our borders are slowly starting to have a better balance of harmonious flowers, foliage, textures, and color throughout the seasons. It’s not a quick fix approach, but over time things are looking more beautiful, and it’s not costing a fortune either.
Have read so many things on garden design lately. Yet your 6 paragraphs make the most sense. Simple. Do-able. Thankyou
What a great approach. Especially for someone visual like myself.
I spent yesterday visiting the Denver Botanic Gardens and left with such a feeling of inadequacy in light of their stunning gardens and displays. Your simple solution came at just the right time!
Hi Chris, I can empathize, I always feel the same way after visiting a beautiful garden. I have to talk to myself for days about how they have dedicated staff with design degrees, etc., etc. This approach has slowly made a difference over time, I’m very visual too 🙂