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deep borders


We had a very large area within the middle of the main garden with a mixture of plants and we have stripped it today of all the plants we didn't want and next Tuesday all the plants we did want, will be replanted within deep borders. We have Foxgloves on seed over winter, so we get some height but I would be delighted to know what back border plants you would suggest (the borders are approx 1.2m). Height and colour (not purple - we have a sea of purple) are important as middle/front bed plants are sorted. Height and Colour help please.
Best C 


  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 4,024
    Hi Christian,
    You call 1.2m borders "deep borders"? My mixed borders range from 2.5m to 4.5m deep! Do you want a mix of herbaceous perennials and shrubs or a mix of annuals and herbaceous perennials? What kind of plants do you already have available?
    You will find good advice with plenty of plants listed on the RHS site at
    You might be interested in browsing the borders in my own garden at with a plan at
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • Hi Papi Jo,

    I will take my 1.2m deep borders and call then shallow  :) from now on.

    Cottage Garden; foxgloves and lupins - but my knowledge is limited (see my bio - keen but not a seasoned gardener). Best C 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    @Christian3 - not everyone has a large garden, or indeed wants great big borders that need a lot of effort to maintain. Some of us have jobs, or other hobbies too, so we don't spend every minute of our free time in a garden, so don't worry about the size of your borders - you want it to be pleasurable to work in, not a chore  :)
    I have borders which range from 6 feet to eighteen inches. If you count the raised beds, I have one which is a lot less than that, because of the shape of the garden. It's perfectly possible to make an attractive space with very little room. It's about choosing wisely, and picking plants which suit you, your conditions, and your abilities too  :)
    Some of the 'daisy' plants are good for this time of year - the aforementioned rudbeckias and  heleniums, leucanthemums etc,  and they work well with grasses too, if you like those. Lychnis is another good mid height plant, and flowers for ages. Japanese anemones too, although some people find them invasive.I've never found that, so it's probably my conditions/climate/soil.
    You can also use things like ornamental Fennel, which will give height, but is 'see through', in the same way Verb. bon is. Veronicas are good as mid height plants, but they like sun, so it really depends on the aspect you have for the border[s]
    Repeat planting is always good in a border. If you can get hold of a plant at this time of year, it's often bursting out of the pot, so you can usually divide and get more. If you wnat hsrubs, you have to be patient if you buy small ones, although some grow quicker than others. If you know the style of planting you like, that also helps, and whether you wnat a harmonius, or a bright, jolly look.
    Remember that spring bulbs are a great way to extend the season too, and this is an ideal time to put them in  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,561
    edited October 2019
    I don't really buy the whole 'tall plants at the back, small plants at the front' thing, especially in a relatively narrow border - I prefer a height variation, and plants growing through others. Shrubs are good for height - I have Hydrangea 'Limelight' with purple and mauve perennials, the colour works well with them. Marlorena mentioned a variety called 'Phantom' in another thread, which looks even better. And then you have roses, Marlorena will be able to recommend dozens. Something with hips would be nice to extend the season. These sorts of things will be able to provide a framework and bulk to your planting.

    Bronze fennel is a fantastic idea for knitting everything together as FG suggests. Grasses do a similar job e.g. Deschampsia which creates a gauzy cloud of seedheads, or can be used as focal points e.g. Stipa gigantea.

    Persicaria amplexicaulis is a super do-er, and you have pink, white, orange and red varieties to pick from. Thalictrum delavayi is fantastic; long flowering and see-through, the standard one is pinky-purple, but there is a white variety called 'Splendide White.' Veronicastrums are great, tall accents coming in white, mauve or pink varities.

    Aster 'Monch' is indispensable, it's not massively tall but a great late season performer. My preference is to bias my planting towards late season plants, so that you don't have that depressing decline setting in at the end of summer. That requires slotting in stuff like Alliums and Geraniums to provide a bit of colour earlier on. 
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,488
    Whether 1.2m is narrow or wide entirely depends on the size and layout of your garden - as Hexagon says, if your garden is small, that could be very generous! I manage to grow three layers of plants in a border 75cm wide, with varying heights and forms. My wide border (varies from 1.2 - 3m) also has 3 layers but gives me more space for shrubs, spreaders and sprawlers.

    Obelisks, arches and trellises fixed in the ground would enable you to grow climbing plants in the open and widen you height and colour range.

    Many heleniums, rudbeckias, dahlias and kniphofia can easily get over a metre high and add great splashes of colour. Some achillea, agastache and salvia can also top out just over a metre. Columnar shrubs with bright or colourful foliage can height and structure. Verbena Bonariensis is very tall for a plant with such a small footprint and is great for stuffing into gaps and blending different plants together. I would call it pink but others would say it’s purple!

    Many online nurseries give you the option to select height, colour, position, soil type etc. and I find that’s a really good way to shortlist plants.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    I was actually going to tag in that other thread we posted on recently @Nollie - the one with your photos when someone else was asking about bringing borders together. 

    Hebes would be good shrubs to add into the mix -they work well with any colour. I think I mentioned them in that other thread too. 
    As if by magic - here it is  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thank you all. I will read every post reply and apply the wisdom. Best C 
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    How is the border backed? Do you have a fence or a wall there? If yes, it would be a perfect place for a climbing rose or other climbers. If there is a fence, do you want to hide it?
    If there isn't any backing, then the borders need a different approach than usually advised. I have similar borders - they are dividing my garden in "rooms" or they are between a path and the rest of the garden (lawn). In similar situations, planting tall plants at the back doesn't work because there is no back and the borders need to look good from two (or more) sides.
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 4,024
    @edhelka has a good point here. Usually, "borders" have a front side and a back side, resting against a fence, wall, etc. Borders that sit in the middle of the garden/lawn are more aptly called "island beds", and require a different planting scheme.
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
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