Sidalcea 'Party Girl'

Armchair Gardening: Planning a New Border

The weather in the past week has been rainy, so not much good for gardening. But it has been ideal for a bit of ‘armchair gardening’. I’ve been thinking about the planting for a new area and imagining which plants might look good there.

Elsewhere in the garden there are a lot of deep or bright colours. I’d like to keep this new patch a bit softer and fairly informal. (Having lighter colours towards the back of the garden can give an effect of receding distance, making the garden look slightly bigger.)

White rose
This white rose has just the softest blush of pink.

Recently, I bought a white-flowered hibiscus, called ‘Red Heart’ because it has a bold red marking at the centre of its flowers. This was originally meant to go in the border alongside the new pond but, as I’ve been planting that area up, I’ve realised that there won’t be space for it.

Instead, I’m going to dig out a new border behind our main sitting-out area. (This is a tiny paved space with a wrought-iron arbour which is smothered by a grape vine at one end, and a more open seating place at the other.)

Left: Astrantia 'Florence' Right: Erigeron karvinskianus
Left: Astrantia ‘Florence’ Right: Erigeron karvinskianus

Because it’s an area for sitting around and taking it easy, I’d like to keep the planting looking relaxed and soothing. Somewhere that will help you to let all the stresses of the day ebb away. Whites, to pick up on the white hibiscus, and pale pinks are the most likely choices at the moment.

We already have a white-barked birch tree nearby, and I’m planning to move some pale pink Japanese anemones to another border behind the new area. (The anemones are beautiful thugs, so they’re getting a border of their own where they can run riot.)

This acanthus has delicately marked veins, but it looks rather spiky.

Sidalcea, astrantia and erigeron (Mexican fleabane) grow in the garden here, so it should be easy to introduce them to the new area too. And we have lots of dark red scabious – a few of those would help to emphasise the similarly-coloured red markings on the hibiscus.

Among the plants waiting to be found homes in the garden here are several white and pink rock roses (Cistus) and they would be likely to enjoy the sun in this border. So the planned area is beginning to look very pink and white, especially if I also add a pale rose like the one in the photo. (Don’t know its name.)

And maybe there should be some acanthus too – it has similar vein-markings to the astrantia and the ‘architectural’ form of the plant would be very striking. But that spiky look might not be so relaxing to look at! (Acanthus is a plant you need to be very sure about wanting, because it’s very hard to get rid of and can grow from little pieces of left-over root.)

Anthemis 'EC Buxton'
The sunny little daisies of Anthemis ‘EC Buxton’

The plan for this new area may be getting a little too pink, so some other pale colours could be added. I love the happy little daisies of the anthemis above. They’re like a sprawling splash of sunshine in the border and have a very informal look. Nigella also has that relaxed feel about it and would be delightful to see close-up. (The area behind the seating is a little higher, with a low retaining-wall because our garden is on a slight slope.)

Fantasy-gardening and planning new planting is a very pleasant way to spend wet days. But maybe the best thing about it is that it gets the enthusiasm going for starting the work. The rain is over for now and the forecast for the next week is mostly dry, so it looks like I have some digging to do…

Nigella damascena
Nigella is an easy filler in a border.

18 thoughts on “Armchair Gardening: Planning a New Border

  1. I remember my grandparents spending the winter with their seed catalogues. It always seemed to me that they received as much pleasure from their planning as from the planting, although the real reward was the produce, and the flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from dreaming about the possibilities and finding ways to make the imaginary garden real… šŸ™‚


  2. Planning a new garden, or plans for cleaning and adding to an existing one, always makes the winter doldrums disappear with the anticipation of another Spring. Mary Beth does most of the flower gardening but the native woodland plants are mine
    along with my barrel of fringed gentians which I think will receive a more suitable bed next year.
    Our weather is now cold and dry. The ground is a bit crunchy but the preparations for next year are underway. I look forward to seeing what your gardens look like, Ann

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m still able to get some work done in the garden whenever it’s dry enough. That’s a good thing, because there’s lots to be done! January can be very cold, so that’s a good time to hibernate with a big pile of gardening books. šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Ann – sounds like a great way to spend some cool afternoons. I have a question – do your hibiscus plants live through your freezes, or do you ever get a freeze. I have to bring mine in when it gets that cold. Would love to see what your new garden looks like when you get it all set up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far my hibiscus plants have survived but we haven’t had a seriously cold winter for a few years. I will have to wait and see what happens if we do. I’m looking forward to seeing what the garden will look like too. But there’s a lot more work to do before it looks good. It got rather neglected during the last years of my parents lives and it’s just been the last couple of years that I’ve got back to doing my own things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It would be good – but the snow and ice will come back eventually. My hibiscus plants will be much hardier than yours though – I’m assuming that yours are rosa-sinensis, while mine are syriacus. šŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are probably right. I have had several varieties but have always kept them in large pots on my porch so they can be put in the garage when it freezes. If you put them in the house, these little black snakes come out of the pots – that is where they hide in the winter. I learned that the hard way. It does make it exciting to chase little snakes around your house though. HaHa

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Indira! šŸ™‚ I’m glad I was able to get out and work in the garden yesterday because we’ve just had our first proper frost overnight and now the ground is frozen!


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