CREATING A BORDER DISPLAY: HEIGHT, COLOUR, TEXTURE AND SUCCESSION
The year of colour begins in January with a few clumps of 12” high hellebores near the front of the borders. Something like deeppurple atrorubens or deep-red and white-edged ‘Picotee’, all with drooping heads and strong shiny leaves. Alongside, plant purpleleaved heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ or coffee-and-cream leaved heuchera ‘Crème Brûlée’, and green-leaved euphorbia griffithii with brightorange bracts.
Medium height January shrubs with colour could include deliciously scented witch hazel hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ with deep-red flowers or sulphuryellow hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’.
Plant bulbs such as daffodil, tulip or blue-spired camassia quamash to flower between your spring and early-summer plants. These will then hide the bulbs’ wilting leaves as they establish. For ‘front of the border’ bulbs, opt for delicate low-growing deep-blue iris reticulata, daffodil narcissus ‘Tête-à-Tête’ and snowdrop galanthus nivalis. Snowdrops should always be planted ‘in the green’, just after they have finished flowering.
A variety of shrubs, some large, some small but all flowering at different times of year, forms the backbone of any border. These provide stability and companionship to the shortseason plants flowering around them. A spread of flowering shrubs will provide a perfect backdrop for your flower display.
“February and March is peak camellia time in acidic soil,” said Peter, whose fairly acidic soil at Western Gardens is ideal for their magnificent collection of over 50 camellias. “Choosing different varieties will give you flowers seamlessly between November and April.”
For height and dense masses of colour, growing over fences and pergolas between March and May, rambling clematis montana offers an impressive display of white flowers or if you prefer pink try clematis montana ‘Elizabeth’. There is a wide variety of ‘named’ clematis for all aspects of the garden, flowering between
ABOVE: Helleborus x hybrid ‘Picotee’BELOW RIGHT: Camellia peonyform ‘Anticipation’