Perennials provide colour every season and don’t require much attention. Yet they provide structure to your garden and offer years of pleasure.

Make life easier by preparing first

Clear the soil thoroughly of all weed roots and root segments when creating a herbaceous border.

Once the bed is established, it becomes difficult to get rid of these troublesome weeds without damaging other plants.

Read more: How to transform a neglected garden

 

Long-lasting colourful borders

Perennial flowering plants come in many different shapes and sizes. They die back to ground level each autumn, growing back vigorously the following spring and flowering once again.

Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) unfurl their flowers while it is still winter and, in spring, primulas follow them. In spring, too, flowering bulbs such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses, scilla and daffodils enhance any herbaceous border.

The diverse varieties of phlox, bellflower (Campanula) and day lily (Hemerocallis) provide accents of colour from July until autumn, when the numerous varieties of yellow-flowering Rudbeckia grace the border for a rewardingly long period. And it is then that asters, sedums and chrysanthemums also come into their own.

Some early flowering perennials, such as bleeding heart (Dicentra), die back soon after flowering, leaving gaps in the border that can then be filled with summer bedding. Others, such as hostas and Heuchera, remain decorative after flowering, thanks to their foliage.

Read more: Tips to prolong flowering displays

 

Herbaceous displays for every garden

There are perennials suitable for every type of garden, whether dry, sunny, shady or damp. Plant them together in borders according to flowering period, colour and size, so that they produce a pleasing show of blooms throughout the whole year.

Shade lovers will not thrive alongside sun worshippers, and plants preferring a dry situation will be susceptible to fungal diseases if planted in a damp location.

Remember, too, to include a variety of different flower shapes in a border as well as contrasting colours or combinations of similar tones.

 

A good supply of nutrients

Spring or autumn are the best times to plant a herbaceous border. Work compost or a slow-release fertiliser into the soil to provide vital nutrients, before you start planting. Divide the bed into smaller sections and choose plants for each area according to size, colour and flower shape.

Combining too many different varieties will make the border seem muddled, so restrict yourself to a handful of different plants, placing several of the same variety together. Position plants by height, with smaller ones in the foreground and taller ones at the back to ensure that the different varieties will be fully visible.

 

Mix and match

A cottage-style garden combines annuals and perennials. Here, pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis), phlox, snapdragons (Antirrhinum), echinacea and sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) create an informal riot of colour.

 

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