Joe’s 5-plant prairie bor­der

Gardeners' World - - Prairie Border -

My plan takes some clas­sic prairie plants and sim­ply re­peats the pat­tern, one next to another to cre­ate a sin­u­ous, nat­u­ral­is­tic look. It could be re­duced, ex­tended or eas­ily adapted for a smaller or dif­fer­ent-shaped bor­der. The two ex­cel­lent grasses have very dif­fer­ent habits: the cala­m­a­grostis is up­right in form, whereas the de­schamp­sia is shorter and al­to­gether froth­ier. They act as the glue, bind­ing the scheme to­gether while the peren­ni­als in­tro­duce con­trast­ing shapes and sea­sonal colour. Yel­low, red and deep pink may not sound like a clas­sic colour com­bi­na­tion but these plants all have a knack of work­ing along­side each other − and they look beau­ti­ful in de­cay. De­schamp­sia ce­spi­tosa ‘Gold­tau’ x ap­prox. 14

A very good, low-mounded grass for both sun and light shade. The mid-green leaves are grace­ful and use­fully ev­er­green. It flow­ers in sum­mer when its frothy, light, sil­very in­flo­res­cences catch and hold the light to great ef­fect. I would never plant just one – al­ways a sea of them – and as they work in sun and light shade, they can be ideal for link­ing the prairie theme into other ar­eas of the gar­den. Height x Spread 75cm x 75cm

Per­si­caria am­plex­i­caulis ‘Fire­tail’ x 2

The fo­liage is slen­der, dense and grows well in sun or light shade. In late sum­mer, from July to Oc­to­ber, it pro­duces spires of bur­gundy-red flow­ers on thin stems above the leaves. Per­si­caria is of­ten seen as a ground-cover plant, but it’s far more than that; when in flower it adds a ver­ti­cal brush­stroke into the plant­ing, plus it’s a mag­net for wildlife. It can get bois­ter­ous, so don’t be fright­ened to reg­u­larly lift and di­vide. H xS 120cm x 120cm

Cala­m­a­grostis x acu­ti­flora ‘Karl Fo­er­ster’ x 7

A gar­den de­signer’s dream, as it adds lots of height with lit­tle spread. It’s a con­sis­tently per­form­ing, erect grass that com­bines well with other plant forms and flower shapes. I’ve used it as a back­drop to this scheme, but if you have greater depth to your beds it can help in­for­mally di­vide it or even work as a sum­mer hedg­ing plant. The flow­ers start off green, turn gin­gery and last well into the win­ter. Also great in pots. 1.8m x 60cm

Rud­beckia fulgida ‘Gold­sturm’ (black-eyed Su­san) x 6

Cheery yel­low, daisy-like flow­ers with dis­tinc­tive dark-brown cen­tres and petals that face slightly down­ward in a re­laxed man­ner. This one flow­ers freely for a long pe­riod and I par­tic­u­larly like its height, too. At around 60cm tall, it works nicely in front of other taller peren­ni­als and grasses, in the mid­dle or to­wards the front of a bor­der. If you plant a group of three or five plants, they’ll quickly bulk up into an im­pact­ful clump. 60cm x 50cm

Echi­nacea pur­purea ‘Mag­nus’ (cone­flower) x 12

There’s a wide range of echi­nacea flower colours, from pinks and deep reds to greens and whites. This one has hor­i­zon­tal, deep-red­dish pink petals, which look stun­ning against the large, dark-orange cen­tre. They flower from July to Septem­ber and are likely to seed around. The oval fo­liage forms a lush clump, too. In a dry au­tumn, they’ll keep their stems and cones look­ing par­tic­u­larly good, es­pe­cially when frosted. 100cm x 45cm

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