Planting a border

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One of the pleasures of November gardening is spending time planning what next year’s garden will look like.

This is when the photographs and notes taken during the year are studied, to see which plants worked well and how they worked in combination in a border. It is wonderful to look back at the same border, photographed at different points in the year, to appreciate the differences and the succession of plants. Here at Glyndebourne we took two photographs of the Terrace borders to show the difference between an early summer planting, photographed on 2 June, and late summer, photographed on 15 September. If you are inspired to introduce any of the plants into your own garden, Vicky Skeet discovers from our gardening team what to plant and when.

The striking white spires of Eremurus, the foxtail lily, grow to 1.5m and flower from the end of May. The crowns of fleshy roots should be handled carefully when planting in spring and given a soaking if they have become dry and brittle. The plants need a sunny position with good drainage, and the crowns can be left in the ground year-round.

In the foreground bordering the path is the white Nigella papillosa ‘African Bride’, an annual grown from seed started in March under cover, or April to May directly in the border. It has beautiful purple stamens when it flowers from June, and shiny nearly-black seedpods follow the flowers.

Terrace borders, 2 June, photo by Vicky Skeet

The pink tones in the border are supplied by Digitalis purpurea, the common foxglove, echoing the tall spires of the Eremurus. Seeds can be sown in late spring in-situ and once flowering has finished, will self-seed. To avoid too many seedlings, deadhead some of the plants and thin out in spring.

Further along the border Papaver orientale and the herbaceous perennial Paeonia lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’ continue the pink theme, with the pink climbing rose ‘Louise Odier’ and white Hydrangea petiolaris creating a beautiful backdrop against the aged brick wall.

In September the borders are packed with foliage and hot colours, and the height is supplied by the towering stems and bright pink tassel flowers of Persicaria orientalis which can grow to over 2.5m tall. Persicaria is an annual which self-seeds in the Terrace border and the seedlings need to be thinned out or moved, but if you’re starting them from seed sow them in small pots in April or May in a cold frame or a greenhouse and plant them out in position in June.

Terrace borders, 15 September, photo by Vicky Skeet

The pink Cleome hassleriana ‘Señorita Rosalita’ and purple/pink Cleome hassleriana ‘Violet Queen’ seen on either side of the path in the foreground are grown from seed, sown under cover February to May, and hardened off and planted out at the end of May. They have a long flowering period from July until late September.

Cosmos, sedums and dahlias fill out the border; the dark foliage and bright red flowers of Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ contrast with the pale pink of Dahlia ‘Bishop of Leicester’. We lift some of the dahlia tubers after the first frosts in November to over-winter in the greenhouse, growing them on in pots ready to plant them back out in early July when their bright colours add a tropical feeling to the late summer borders.