Herbaceous Borders

Herbaceous borders have long been a staple in British gardens – offering a wonderful array of sizes, shapes and colours over many months of the year, providing cut flowers for the home and keeping the butterflies and bees busy all summer. Then best of all, they come back even bigger and better the following year!

Customers often tell us that they’d love a herbaceous border, but don’t know where to start, or how to choose a collection that goes together.  The simple answer is – it’s really difficult to get it wrong!  When have you ever seen plants that DON’T work together?  Choosing plants is not like choosing home or fashion accessories where you’re choosing from manufactured colours  – nature has already waved its magic wand and created a diverstiy of plants in different colours and textures but they all naturally blend together as you can see from the photos below.

Lupins

Hollyhocks

Foxglove

Penstemon

Astilbe

Cirsium

Tip #1 – Experiment

If you’re starting a herbaceous border, our first piece of advice is – don’t be nervous, choose a few plants that you like, let them grow for the first year and see how it goes!

Gallardia

Polemonium

Coreopsis

Geranium

Centaurea

Crocosmia

Tip #2 – Size matters!

It makes sense to think about the back, middle and front of the border when choosing plants – or as we sometimes call them, the thrillers, fillers and spillers!  Of course, in a herbaceous border plants at any level can be the thriller at any point in the season, but thinking in approximately 3 levels is a good starting point. Don’t forget that the plants will grow in width too and leave some growing room between them.

Scabious

Papaver (Poppy)

Lavender

Heuchera

Veronica

Geum

Tip #3 – Fill the gaps

Building a herbaceous border usually takes more than one season, so why not fill in the gaps with annuals meantime whilst the perennials fill out – it’ll also give you time to decide if everything is in the right place! Annuals – as the name suggests – will generally only last for one season, but they are relatively inexpensive and offer a great show of summer colour.
Here are some suggestions:

Geranium (zonal types)

Marigold

Double Petunia

Begonia

Mesembryanthemum (Livingston Daisies)

Verbena