Create a view from the patio

Imagine yourself relaxing on the patio enjoying the summer sunshine and thinking about your beautiful garden with butterflies alighting on your gorgeous flowers……. there’s only one problem, when you open your eyes, there’s no flowers! This month we’re offering you some ideas about creating your own ‘view from the patio’ with a border of herbaceous perennials.

Soil

In an ideal world you’ll have good, deep, well-cultivated loam for your border, but most of us aren’t that lucky, so depending on the depth and quality of your existing soil, you may need to add additional topsoil.   Even with the best topsoil, we’d suggest forking in plenty organic matter such as farmyard manure because it improves the texture of the soil, helps with moisture and adds a base level of nutrients.

Light

Every plant has its own preference for light and shade, and knowing the light levels in your garden is a great help when choosing your plants. Watch how the sun goes around your garden during the day and decide where your border gets full sun, partial shade or full shade. Don’t forget that the sun will be lower in spring and autumn and it may not get high enough to reach over trees or fences in autumn or spring!

What goes where

An easy way to think about the layout of your border is to consider it as three levels – in fact much like the hanging baskets we wrote about last month – you’ll need taller plants for the back or centre (thrillers), medium plants for the mid-level (the fillers) and lower-growing varieties for the front (the spillers).Many of the traditional favourites – such as Lupins, Delphiniums or Verbascum – will be available in a range of varieties to give you a choice of colour, height and spread – in fact, the more popular the plant, the more variations in shape, size and colour that you’re likely to find.

Customers often tell us that they’re worried about choosing the wrong plant but in our view, there’s no such thing as a wrong plant – if you like it, it IS the right plant!  Ok, so a plant may not work well where you place it first, but it can always be moved later in the season when it has stopped growing so vigorously – we’ll tell you when later in the year.

Some plants to consider for your patio view:

Lupins

Fabulous spikes of flowers.
Huge range of colours
Ideal for the back or centre of the border

Geum ‘Cooky’

Vibrant orange flowers.
Fairly low-growing so ideal for the front or edge of the border.

Centaurea ‘Amethyst Dream’

Unusually shaped, gorgeous dark flowers.
Works well in the mid level of the border.

Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’

Masses of yellow flowers on glossy green foliage.
Fills well at mid or front level

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

An all-time favourite herbaceous geranium producing masses of blue flowers.
Excellent for the lower edges of the border

Verbascum ‘Dark Eyes’

A compact variety of this perennial favourite.
Grows to about 30cm (1ft)

Veronica spicata

A compact version of Veronica with
striking blue spikes

Penstemon

Available in a wide range of different colours and heights.
The one shown is  ‘Pheonix Red’

Alcea (Hollyhock)

Very tall, ideal for the back of the border.
Dramatic and showy, available several colours.

Cirsium atropurpureum

Tall spikes of thistle-like flowers on a bed of low-growing foliag

Gallardia ‘Sunset Cutie’

Sometimes known as the ‘Blanket Plant’.
Long flowering season, attractive to butterflies.

Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’

Available in a wide range of different colours and heights.
The one shown is  ‘Pheonix Red’