These are ideas for a garden border that has a gentle palette of mostly soft pinks enlivened by white, silver and purple. This should provide for a long season of interest in a sunny garden.
Start your plan with a long-lasting collection of ‘background’ shrubs. These sit behind smaller plants and provide green foliage as a background to the plants that have their floral show later in the year.
Starting in winter Viburnum x bodnantense provides fragrant pink flowers, carried on bare branches. This shrub will provide a green backdrop for smaller plants in summer. Then there are the soft pink dome-shaped blooms of the winter and spring flowering evergreen Viburnum tinus ‘Gwenllian’. Finally, a spring flowering lilac could be grown, try the pale pink cone-shaped blooms of deciduous Syringa Josee = ‘Morjos060f’.
Next deal with the border front. Put in several clumps of weighty-looking large-leaved plants at the front of the border, placing them at either end with further repetition along its length. Bergenia ‘Harzkristall’ is good with its clusters of pink and white flowers in April and May. In between put other low-growing plants, perhaps in repeating groups such as the strong pink daisies of Osteospermum ‘In the Pink’, the silver-pink domed flowers of Glandularia ‘Silver Anne’ (Verbena), the dainty froth of white Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’, and for late summer and winter interest the fleshy grey-green leaves and warm pink flat-looking flowers of Sedum ‘Birthday Party’ (Birthday Party Series).
Next consider the rear action, just in front of your big shrubs. Here is a good spot for the spires of tall delphiniums such as Delphinium ‘Rosemary Brock’. Its dusky pink flowers could be contrasted with the tall, wavy, somewhat shouting Lavatera x clementii ‘Bredon Springs’ with its dark pink flowers. This is pruned to 30cm from the ground in early spring. Next a big anemone like substantial Anemone x hybrida ‘Konigin Charlotte’ with semi-double clear pink flowers on long stems, flowering in August and September. Finally, a viticella clematis could clamber over the background shrubs. Try dusky red Clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ which flowers from July. This is hard-pruned in late winter or early spring.
Finally, the middle ground of your border offers many choices and a chance to experiment. You could centre the display on the short-lived drama of big poppies such as the grey and pink of Papaver orientale ‘Ruffled Patty’, or the cool pink of Papaver orientale ‘Turkish Delight’. These are in flower in late spring and early summer. Afterwards, the untidy fading foliage can be smothered by frothy gypsophila, planted behind them so it flops forward over the poppy leaves. Classic froth is provided by white Gypsophila paniculata ‘Bristol Fairy’.
Roses can also be included, such as the soft-pink, nearly thorn-free repeat flowering Rosa Heritage = ‘Ausblush’, or the highly fragrant pink, all-summer flowers of Rosa Millie = ‘Poulren013’ (Renaissance Series).
There are many choices for other plants to include. Consider lightening the effect with waving stems of pink Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’. Use reliable penstemon such as Penstemon Fujiyama = ‘Yayama’ (Volcano Series). Add solidity with the big daisy flowers of Echinacea like the deep pink of Echinacea purpurea ‘Vintage Wine’.
Include foliage interest with the purple-grey leaves of Sedum ‘Matrona’ with rose-pink flowers from late summer. Try the silver leaves of Anaphalis triplinervis ‘Sommerschnee’. Finally, add an exotic twist with the mad flowers of Campanula ‘Pink Octopus’.
Check the heights of your chosen middle-ground plants when installing them. Herbaceous plants can be relocated as you explore new ideas each year.
Susan A. Tindall