Joe’s 5-plant clay soil plan

Gardeners' World - - Clay Soil Border -

This is a sum­mer bor­der for a sunny cor­ner, per­haps in a front gar­den be­tween a house and a boundary wall bor­der­ing a lawn or path. I see it hav­ing a soft, lux­u­ri­ant, al­most ro­man­tic feel. The bil­low­ing hon­ey­suckle draped over the back wall or fence acts as a back­drop to set off the fea­tured rose and the peren­ni­als in front of it. Scent is also a key fac­tor, as the hon­ey­suckle and rose will pump out de­li­cious per­fume through­out the sum­mer, which will be held within their cor­ner set­ting.

Rosa ‘Thomas à Becket’ x 1

Roses do well in clay soil, and there are many types and colours to choose from. I’ve opted for a re­peat-flow­er­ing, mod­ern David Austin shrub rose with a strong, old-fash­ioned fra­grance (how could you choose a rose with­out?). It has crim­son flow­ers and a loose, shrubby shape, which will work nicely in this in­for­mal scheme. If you’re look­ing to plant a new rose, go for a dis­ease-re­sis­tant va­ri­ety like this one. Height x Spread 1.2m x 1m

Lon­icera per­icly­menum ‘Serotina’ x 2

This is a fast-grow­ing, shrubby climber with masses of highly scented, tubu­lar flow­ers from July through to Oc­to­ber. I love its two-tone blooms, yel­low with dark pur­ple-red streaks, which give it real depth and mean that it will work along­side a range of other plants. It grows best with its roots shaded and its head in the sun, so the plant­ing in front should do the job nicely. H xS Up to 8m x 1.5m

Al­chemilla mol­lis x 11

Not all plants can steal the show, some we sim­ply rely on to do a job. Al­chemilla mol­lis is a fine ground­cover plant that grows pretty much any­where. Its vel­vety, scal­lop-shaped leaves hold wa­ter droplets beau­ti­fully, while in sum­mer its frothy lime-green flow­ers bring a light­ness to the bor­der and seem to in­ten­sify other colours. It’s a pro­lific self-seeder, and I en­vis­age it grow­ing in cracks in a gravel path nearby. H xS 50cm x 50cm

Ly­ch­nis coro­naria Atrosan­guinea Group x 7

I of­ten for­get to plant this in bor­ders first time around, and then I go back and dot some in for a sum­mer pick-me-up. It’s a short-lived peren­nial, last­ing around two years, but of­ten self-seeds. The leaves are slen­der and woolly, and the flow­ers bright ma­genta, which I hope will clash a lit­tle with the rose (there is a white va­ri­ety that would also work with this scheme). It is long flow­er­ing, from mid­sum­mer on­wards. H xS 1m x 50cm

As­tran­tia ma­jor ‘Claret’ x 9

As­tran­tias are classy sum­mer-flow­er­ing peren­ni­als that grow well on clay soil in sun or par­tial shade, so they’re ideal for link­ing ar­eas to­gether. This one is a showy va­ri­ety with ruby-red flow­ers held high on dark stems above fo­liage that’s dark green and deeply lobed – it’s got a lot go­ing for it! I’ve grown this in tra­di­tional bor­ders, but it will look just as com­fort­able in more con­tem­po­rary schemes. H xS 1m x 50cm

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