Q How can I give my border more structure?
THIS BUSY BORDER looked fabulous about two seasons ago. But now it looks an unholy mess (top right). Part of the problem is that it contains too many lax plants – my penstemons, grasses and gaura all love flopping on each other and making an untidy tangle. Another problem is the fact I have too many plants in there – probably about 25% of them need to go and live elsewhere. The soil might look bare in spring but by June the lupins and other perennials arrive and are anticipating a leisurely summer of unbridled flopping. “This border needs a combination of plant removal and replacement,” says our gardening expert Ian Hodgson. “First Liz needs to thin out the planting by trimming back unwanted growth, removing excess plants and dividing the bigger specimens to plant elsewhere in the garden. “Staking in early spring would give the remaining perennials better support. Also, it might be an idea to swap the lax plants for species that are more upright and selfsupporting. I’d remove the anemanthele in favour of more upright grasses such as variegated Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland’ or steely blue Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’. Also, consider white-flowered plants with a stronger upright habit such as Physostegia virginiana ‘Summer Snow’ and Veronica longifolia ‘Charlotte’ or ‘White Wands’.”
Need help with a border that’s lost its lustre? Write to us at the address on p103