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Formal Bedding Scheme

fliprollswfliprollsw ScotlandPosts: 13
Evening all,

Relatively new gardener and loved it last year. I know that formal borders of summer bedding plants are slightly out of fashion but still often seen. I plant to have a long border and another few smaller borders in my garden next year laid out. 

I have sent away to Sutton’s for some seed packets as last year I did a mix of seed and plug plants. 

Have sent away for French and African Marigolds, Fibrous Begonias, Lobelia, Alyssum, Red Salvia, Calendulas. 

I also will purchase some Cannas/Tuberous Begonias/Love Lies Bleeding as “dot plants”, and petunia plugs to fill baskets/tubs. 

Two more unusual varieties of seed I have sent away for are Heliotrope (an old bedding favourite), and Black Eyed Susie - a climber.  Has anyone had success with these two? 

Back to my main question, does anyone have tips for layouts/colours which go well together or even better - photos of your own formal borders. 


  • fliprollswfliprollsw ScotlandPosts: 13
    I will also sow some sweet pea seeds for large containers, and have fuschias and geraniums saved from last year. Hoping for a riot of colour. 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,673
    Wow, you certainly have a selection there !
    One of my favourite combinations is bedding begonias with silver leaved cineraria. I don't think cineraria is on your list but it can act as a "break" plant to give your eyes a rest from all the colours. 
    You could also use the smaller types of phormium to give height if you needed any more.

    I'm assuming your borders get a fair amount of sunshine as generally speaking that's what bedding plants like. Another thing to consider is whether they can be viewed from both sides, or just one (ie with a fence or hedge at the back).

    Are you planning on something such as a rainbow design or just going to go all out and mix it up ?

    I don't know how many forum members do what would be classed as formal bedding. 
     Personally I try and do a fairly formal scheme in my front garden but usually only using two or 3 varieties of the same plant such as cosmos or bedding geraniums (pelargoniums). At the moment it's filled with wallflowers that hopefully will be "in yer face" orange come the Spring and the Summer plan is dwarf sunflowers 🤞.
    There are people on this site with really good eye for colour who l'm sure will be able to help you.

    I wish you luck with it, it sounds like it's going to be fantastic 🙂.
  • fliprollswfliprollsw ScotlandPosts: 13
    Yes, I do have some cineraria to act as a dot plant. Seed provides me the option to get loads of plants cheaply as I have a large indoor porch to raise them and I can see what works best and what I like. I think I will stick to themes per border, eg. A row of lobelia, marigolds, salvia, heliotrope, and then fuschias but we’ll see once I get some more advice. The bedding begonias did so well this year and fill up any of the shadier areas too. 
    Have you any photos of your display?
  • fliprollswfliprollsw ScotlandPosts: 13
    I’m a bit funny about pelargoniums… I think they are a bit dated but I love the retro look and might do one of the small beds as an “in your face” as you say, display of red pelargoniums. 
    I was also told that a mixed bed of fuschias and heliotrope is a traditional Victorian mix so may save that for another smaller bed. Maybe some standard fuschias dotted in the middle. 
    Have you seen the teddy bear sunflowers - nearly made my list - but enough already and may be used next year but look great for bedding. 

  • PerkiPerki Rossendale - LancashirePosts: 2,184
    I've grown every plant you've mentioned, I don't do bedding schemes though mainly pots / troughs and baskets I may dot the odd few in the garden. 

    It far easier to work off just the colour and don't think about the plant . I prefer clashing colours so something like blue & Orange = Blue lobelia & marigold could add magneta coloured busy lizzie or petunia  to the mix.  Alyssum and lobelia or commonly used together mainly for the front of a border . 

    You've got a few slug magnets in your list so you'll have to keep an eye out for them . I didn't like sunflower teddy bear bit of a none event I prefer the bigger ones . 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,673
    I will see if l can find some photos to post, but it might take a day or two :) 

    The sunflowers l'm hoping to grow are a variety called "Soleil". I prefer the open flower types to a variety like "Teddy Bear" as l want to attract bees. I still haven't decided whether to have just those on their own, or mix things up a bit.

    As @Perki says, you need to keep an eye out for slugs and snails. They can cause havoc with certain varieties. 

    One of the best formal bedding displays l have seen was at The Quarry Park in Shrewsbury,  a search for that may give you some ideas, also Waddesdon Manor is famous for its bedding displays. 
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 18,510
    I've grown all those too but I put bedding plants in pots and in flower beds with the perennials. I like Rudbeckias and Salvia Farinacea among the perennials. Some annuals are a bit slow to get going so I used to buy plug plants of Rudbeckias, Salvias and Heliotrope. Unfortunately, the nursery I bought them from, in France where I live, has packed up.

    Here are some photos of bedding plants in public gardens.
    The Quarry Park in Shrewsbury, originally planted by Percy Thrower

    Stratford on Avon 

    Bury Saint Edmunds

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,673
    Whereabouts is that in Stratford @Busy-Lizzie ?
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 18,510
    @AnniD, it's the knot garden at Shakespeare's New Place 
    I took the photo a few years ago in July.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • fliprollswfliprollsw ScotlandPosts: 13
    Thanks for all the tips, links and photos. Loving these public parks. The reason I was asking about photos of garden displays is these are in a much larger scale than the typical border. It seems lobelia/marigold and salvia/marigolds are popular options? Will petunias be ok in borders as they are rather spreading?
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