The best flower selections for ‘This goes with that’ summer borders

Clive Blazey, author of ‘The Complete Guide to the Flower Garden’, discusses the power of intelligent combination

What makes a flower garden-worthy?
Let’s start by discussing the flowers we might love but that may not be suitable, i.e. garden-worthy in the sense that, although they will grow well,
they may have serious defects you need to understand before planting.
These are what we call the ‘Jane Austin’s Mr Darcy-like swoons’.
Tulips, lilies and roses
These are flowers more suited for the vase rather than the garden. Tulip flowers are the most ephemeral, lasting for only 2–3 weeks before the flowers collapse to produce seeds, retreating back into the bulbs underground for five months. The bulbs then need to be dried out and so must be lifted and treated like annuals for replanting each year. Is that all-too-brief flowering really worth all that trouble?
Lilies can be grown in many exquisite flower forms and are often deliciously fragrant. 
However the upward-facing lilies, which the florists display that look so elegant in a vase, are strangely awkward-looking grown amongst other garden plants. These lilies are best grown in the cutting garden (see pages 8 and 38–39), just as vegetables are grown for the kitchen garden, but gardeners wanting to create beautiful garden pictures should choose the Lilium species, which have trumpets that hang down, such as the Tigers, Phillipense, Nepalese, Madonna, Leucanthemum and Speciosum.
Roses come in two types – great garden performers such as iceberg floribundas or climbers and shrub roses (including David Austins). Avoid the hybrid teas bred specifically to be grown in glasshouses just for the vase.
The ephemerals
Newly-bred bedding plants, that have very large flowers on short stems and look completely unbalanced, are often offered as mixed colours or colours that clash. With ‘Diggers Select’ (see page 11), we break colours into two harmonies:

Incoherent Garden - Clashing yellows, blues and reds of annual bedding plants.

Coherent Garden - In the perennial hot border at Cloudehill, orange, yellow and red work in striking harmony.

Taking the Guesswork out of Creative Planting!
1. We match flowering times so you don’t plant spring and summer flowering plants together.
2. We combine plants with similar attributes – drought-tolerance, shade needs – so you can pick the right plants for the right place.
3. Choose the colours you like by separating the hot colours of red, orange and yellow from cooler pastel blue, pink, grey and cream to create pleasing artistic pictures.
Pastels including cream (not white, which is better on its own, hence the white garden concept), light-blue and pink with grey foliage.
Hot colours including red, yellow and orange with purple foliage.
Typical colour combinations from US plant breeders, who mix patriotic red, white and blue colours, break all the colour rules, eventually causing one’s eyes to tire of such discord.

Desirable ‘garden-worthies’ – permanent perennials and garden bulbs
A summer flower border has three different balconies of height:
Foreground plants are only 10–50cm tall planted in 1–2m groupings.
Mid-ground plants are 60cm–1m tall in 2–3m groupings but, to give depth, the border should contain lots of subtle ‘see-through’ plants, like Achillea, to help link the tall plants with the short foreground plants.
Background plants are 1.2–2m tall and are self-supporting, except for dahlias which need support (2–4m groupings).
The best see-through perennials are Verbena bonariensis, Achillea, Coneflower and Angelica.

More

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Garden Pyramid

Clive Blazey explains the Diggers guide — our Garden Pyramid

Gardening with Flowers

Choosing the best Diggers selections for the cutting garden

Grow Your Own Berries

Tim Sansom gives his tips on pruning and training for success with your cane fruit crop

Grow Your Own Food (Early Summer)

Bernadette Brady helps you start growing your own food in just 1-3 weeks

Grow Your Own Organically

Bernadette Brady explains how we make 'weed tea', control pests and serve organic food in our restaurants

How to drought proof your garden

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Moon Planting

St Erth's head gardener Julian Blackhirst explains the lunar planting cycle

Plant Ratios for the Backyard

Clive Blazey's thoughts on providing the right balance of plants in your backyard

Q&A - Green Manures

Trials manager Ian Magnus answers questions about using green manures to boost soil fertility and water retention

Q&A - Mulch

Bill Bampton, head gardener at Heronswood, explains our success with making and using mulch

Q&A - Seeds

Seed manager Evette Jungwirth answers your questions about growing from seed successfully

Q&A - Soils

Hugh Hunkin answers your questions about soils and why they are at the root of most gardening problems

Soft green succulents for a lush green garden

Bill Bampton transforms Heronswood’s gravel garden

Spring Gardening

Bernadette Brady recommends getting your hands dirty with some tasks in the spring garden

Subtropical Growing Zone

Tim Sansom explains the heat generated by “Hot Zone” discussions

The “Hauteculture” of Espalier

Bill Bampton talks about turning an untidy orchard into a bountiful border

Tomato Growing Problems

Caromy MacDougall explains some common tomato growing problems and how to minimise them

Veganics and plant-based living

Plant-based living launches Veganics The vegan movement is gathering momentum for many reasons from animal welfare to climate change, and this is creating a wave of change across all industries from wine, to clothing and even gardening.
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