Putting plants together can be a bit of a puzzle, so I use a sort of template that makes life a lot easier.
The first thing to sort out is the type of soil, i.e. sandy or clay, and how much sun or shade there is. Once I’ve chosen plants for these conditions, I like to concentrate on groups of shapes that contrast nicely together, followed by colour, variety through the year, scent etc.
This pleasing combo from the Chelsea Flower Show a few years back shows this classic plant combination in action.
- A trio of solid evergreen Box (Buxus – shrub) clipped into balls, they could be substituted with Hebes if you don’t want the bother of regular clipping.
- Peonies (herbaceous perennials) with red flowers on one side and cream on the other also have lovely shaped leaves and the Iris sibirica (herbaceous perennials) makes a nice contrast with its’ spear shaped, upright leaves.
- The row of white geranium ( herbaceous perennials) along the front will flower for months on end.
This combo would be happiest in sun/part shade with fertile soil that drains well. All of the plants, except the Box balls will largely disappear in winter, though some geraniums keep their leaves in milder areas of the south of England. Small bulbs, crocus or tiny daffodils would be a perfect Spring addition at the front, they’d die back and disappear before the geranium appear.
Plants at flower shows are planted close together, these would need a bit more space in a real garden.
photo: Jill Anderson