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What to grow in borders for spring and summer long colour

KmehKmeh Posts: 171
I am still relative newbie to gardening and last year I had success with growing dahlias and cosmos for my borders from a combination of bulbs and seeds. These were of course towards the end of the summer and into autumn. I plan to replicate this again. I have some foxgloxes and lupins towards the back which I am hoping will flower too. These rest of the border is a mixture of shrubs like hebe, photinia, eleaganus, potenilla, which all centre around sambucus nigra.

So I suppose I am looking for is flower inspiration. I want some to fill the front and mid level of the border in spring and early to mid summer until the cosmos and dahlias take over. Ideally from seed, though happy to grow from seedlings too for the spring/late spring. Suggestions that are not attractive to rabbits would be ideal. 

Any help very much appreciated. 


  • Hardy ostepurnums would be my recommendation. Thanks 
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    If you are thinking of growing from seed, I think not likely for many perennials to flower from spring into summer this year. Small plug plants grown on this year or 10cm pot plants may possibly fill your border gaps this year. Also, what type of soil do you have? It will help others to recommend you the right plants.

  • KmehKmeh Posts: 171
    Its clay soil in far north yorkshire. The border is a around 20 m.  I am about to get a greenhouse  which I am hoping would aid with this.  I am looking for pops of colour to liven up  the border and create some uniformity amongst the varied shrubs. I love symmetry and repitition, so a scheme of two of three for each row would be ideal?Probably more annuals given I want to create different looks throughout summer and spring.

    My initial thoughts were that I could have a two stage approach where flowers (thinking combinations of 2 or 3 plants) relatively mature could go in say early March and those flowers would take me through to early June. I really need two suggestions here - something in the 30-40 cm range (for the front) and then the 50-70 cm range for the mid section.   Last year I had wallflowers and these were fabulous, but my nursery didnt carry the bare rooted ones this year and i didn't fancy forking out for seedlings only to have them annihilated by rabbits. I suppose I want something like this but more complex and colourful? Happy to buy online as seedlings or something more advanced.

    A second phase could be planted (that were started in the greenhouse as seedlings or seeds) in june, again it would be relatively mature by this stage.  I particularly need something that will be at the front of the border as the back of the border will have cosmos, dahalias, gladioli, lupins and foxgloves  and so will be pretty full (or at least I am I am hoping). 

     Am I making sense? Is this what people who have all round colour do? 
  • What about Begonias? they go on for a long time,even into Oct.
    The whole truth is an instrument that can only be played by an expert.
  • diasica and nemesia are both pretty, and come in a range of colours. They are fairly low growing .
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,854
    I know you say you want to focus on flowers but sometimes some good  strong foliage ( colour / texture /form ) can enhance the flowers around them.
    Sometimes a bed which is all flower can be like a stage full of prima donnas screaming " LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME "
  • KmehKmeh Posts: 171
    Hostafan1 - that made me laugh!

    I need loads of greenery all year round, so I think there are lots of shrubs/trees/perennials and not really any room for anything more substantial than small to medium sized annuals, but open to suggestions of course!

    I attached two pics taken today, so that you can see the front and mid section need something. I had dahlias down the middle and cosmos in front late last summer (these were great but too big) and wallflowers in the front spring and early summer
  • That beautiful wall is crying out for beautiful single flowered hollyhocks against it ... it’ll look a picture

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FireFire Posts: 18,923
    Another vote for diascias, though they are quite small. Salvias give amazing colour through the year. Rozanne, linaria, snap dragons. I'd adice going to have a kneb at some of the RHS etc gardens to see what borders they have going on.

  • I think pot marigold is a nice low growing flower that can do well filling in the gaps in a flower bed. In this video clip you can see them flowering with a variety of sedum and some other plants. Another option for a perennial ground cover that has nice early flowers is Ajuga. I'd also suggest geum and forget me not flowers(myosotis) but these do self seed a lot. The pot marigold also produce seed so you can collect them and replant yourself and they will self seed a bit as well but I don't think spread as much as the forget me not or the geum. The Ajuga produces fresh plants on runner so this can also be divided to get more plants over time.
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