Forum home Garden design

Novice planning a border - help please!

Hi all 

I'm planning a new flowerbed across two thirds of the front of my lawn, approx 4mx1.8m (but curved) and I want it to look restful with airy plants in subtle-ish colours, blooming throughout late spring/summer.  I'm planning a small water feature (solar fountain in some kind of bowl) and I've settled on a few main plants I like:
Yellow achillea
Stipa gigantea
Heuthera obsidian or similar
Mexican fleabane (erigon)

My worry is the sizes of the first three, especially stipa gigantea.  My lawn is about 10m deep and 8m wide with shrubs round the edges (some quite large), we also have a 3m deep patio between the lawn and the house so will usually be viewing this flowerbed from the patio or the sitting room (i.e. sitting down), but it also needs to look nice from the back when you walk around it into the rest of the garden.  Because of that I want to mix up the heights a bit, hence I wants relatively see-through plants so as not to block the view of the rest of the garden.

Perovskia "Blue Spire" is lovely but I think too tall at 1.5m, "Little Spire" is possibly a bit small at 60cm?  Also not too sure if perovskia is a bit dense (only a problem with the taller one probably).  I've found a compact achillea variety called Moonshine which gets to 60cm which is fine.  But stipa gigantea is, obviously, gigantic and though it's lovely and airy I'm worried it might look way too big at the front of the lawn.  There are a couple of smaller varieties but I think they're very new as I can't find them anywhere online to buy.

What do you all think???  I don't want to make loads of work for myself in keeping things small that really want to be tall, so any reassurance about sizes, or suggestions of alternative varieties or even different plants that have a similar look would be much appreciated!

Thank you!


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,439
    edited August 2018
    Don't worry too much about mixing them up. A lot of the time, gardening is a series of happy accidents. The more you over-think things, the more you will end up feeling disappointed.

    From my experience, to have a border that could be admired from all angles, you need to try and cater for that by planting instead of clumps, but in strips/waves. Obviously, each plant has their different heights and habits, but if you loosely think along those lines, when moving around the border, you see more definite form and stronger and bolder statement. That also means, you can plant taller things further out and smaller things in-between. Also think about leaf shape against other leaf shapes. 

    A plant that reaches 1.5 meters may feel huge but over time, the more you garden, you will be amazed by how many perennials can easily reach those heights. Example 50% of Perovskia will be the airy see-through spires. Same with plants like Achilleas. 
  • Thanks Borderline, the reminder not to be too perfectionist is very needed! Think you're right, I'm too in my head and need to just get started. :) You're right about height too.. think I'm just nervous as up 'till now I've just planted one plant at a time and not had to think about a whole border all at once.

    Forgot to mention that my soil is acid clay - I know clay isn't not ideal for some of the plants I mentioned but am planning to did down and loosen the soil, and mix in compost and lots of gravel, so hopefully that will help...
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,439
    Planting one at a time is not an issue. It's not a race to fill a border up. It's always tempting to try and plan ahead and put in plants you have planned, but with time you will see, you will want more and more variety of plants. The more you visit gardens, or public parks, you slowly see how plants behave and get ideas on plant associations. 

    Put in the plants, if they don't work, you could always dig them out and move somewhere else in spring/autumn time. With heights, they are just loose guides. You will find that from year to year, your plants may vary in growth because the weather and temperature can affect their size. 
Sign In or Register to comment.