It’s Autumn and Time to Start Planting!

Sep 21, 2016 - POSTED BY Anna Halloran - How To... , Gardeners Choice

Whilst shrubs and trees form the backbone of a good planting design, it’s the perennials that bring that ‘country garden’ feel to your borders.  Perennials add glorious splashes of colour to your borders at different times of the year and because they die down in the winter, it is possible to layer plant your perennials with bulbs or even other non-invasive perennials.  Layer planting is where you use the same patch of earth to plant 2 lots of plants one above the other or in amongst each other.  So for instance, if you absolutely love poppies, which are stunning but very short lived, you could interplant them with an Autumn flowering plant, such as the Dahlia. Or another great combination is Alliums that flower in late Spring, followed by either Anenome Honorine Jobert or Rudbekia Goldsturm in the Autumn.  Those combinations will give you 5-8 weeks of Alliums in May-June, and 8-9 weeks of flowers from the end of August to the end of October.

There are so many perennials to choose from it can be helpful to start with a decision on what you want your colour palette to be for your planting borders.  The tried and tested colour scheme of lavender, pink and white, or perhaps blue, white and yellow, or even the more flamboyant red, yellow, orange and white are some examples of good colour schemes.  White Is a common denominator in most schemes as it seems to link everything together and is wonderful for adding pools of light in slightly more shady areas.  Once you have chosen your colour scheme, think of the height and shape of the flowers and place them so they contrast well with each other and the shrubs around them.  Mix up some spikes of flowers with cup shaped flowers, and some bold, bulky shapes, with lighter, more airy plants.  This will make your scheme feel as if it sprung up by itself as nature intended.

How you edge your borders is also very important, as the edging of the border really defines your planting areas. For a more classic look Buxus sempervirens is a wonderful choice to edge your borders. If you are looking for a more classic/contemporary look, then edge your borders with either box or Teuchrium x lucidrys, and then use a really full planting scheme in the rest of the border, combining shrubs with perennials and grasses.  For shadier areas I have had great success edging borders with Liriope muscari Big Blue, an evergreen grass like perennial with pretty blue flowers in the Autumn.  Then there is the Plant of the Centenary, chosen by the public for the RHS, the gorgeous Geranium Rozanne.  This Geranium literally flowers non-stop throughout the Summer.  It Is a bit of a thug but you can keep it in control very easily by just cutting it back. This is a plant that is very difficult to resist!