BEST PLANTS FOR A HERBACEOUS BORDER

In order not to make things too technical, I have decided I to give the plants one simple name and not attempt to , muddle beginners with a whole lot of Latin ‘appendages.’ It is impossible to include every plant that might be included in a herbaceous border, and 1 so I have chosen those which any beginner may use with success – those that I have grown and know, and those which give a sufficiently broad picture from the point of view of height, colour, time of flowering and so on. ACANTHUS Has a rather unusual prickly flower. Grows 1.2 m (4 ft) high with decorative leaves. Season, July-August. Likes full sun.

ACHILLEA Often called the cultivated Yarrow. Flowers white, yellow or crimson. Dainty. Grows 0.6 to 1.2 m (2 to 4 ft) high according to variety. My favourite, The Pearl, pure white double flowers.

ACONITUM Often called Monkshood. Looks something like a delphinium, grows 1 to 2 m high (3 to 6 ft) high according to variety. Blue flowers. In season from July to September. My favourite, Spak’s variety, a deep blue, 1.5 m (5 ft).

ALSTRCEMERIA Often called the Peruvian Lily of the . Incas. Has a thick fleshy root system. Often takes three years before it flowers properly. Height 600 to 900 mm (2 to 3 ft). Its lily-like flowers are yellow and orange. Season, July. My favourite, Dover Orange, 750 mm (2| ft).

ALTHAEA Commonly known as the Hollyhock. Grows 2 to 2.5 m (6 to 8 ft) high bearing large single or double flowers coloured pink, white, apricot, cream, salmon or red. They are best treated as biennials because of the Rust Disease which ruins them after the first year or two. ANCHUSA A tall spreading plant with rough leaves and smallish intense blue flowers. Has a deep rooting tap root. Grows 1.5 m (5 ft) high. Season June-August according to variety. Likes a well-drained soil, therefore protect from excessive wet in winter. Can easily be propagated by root cuttings. My favourite, Morning Glory, because of its rich flowers borne in June and July.

ANEMONE Sometimes called the Windflower. Tall branching stems 450 to 900 mm (1| to 3 ft) high, bearing large single or semi-double showy ‘mother-of-pearl’ petal sheen type flowers. These may be pink or white blooms from August till October A tidy type of plant; likes semi-shade. Has been known to become a nuisance if it likes a soil, by spreading too much. My favourite, Lady Gilmour, which bear dark pink double flower in August on stems 600 mm (2 ft) high.

ANTHEMIS The Chamomile. Bears single yellow flowers on stems 1 m (3 ft) high from June till August. The greyish foliage is attractive. My favourite, Mrs E. C. Buxton, a creamy yellow, in bloom June-August. AQUILEGIA Often called Columbine. A dainty plant with harebell-like flowers with tails to them. Often called longspurs. Should be grown in the middle of the border so that the plants in front can hide untidy stems and bare ground after flowering, which takes place from May-June. Height 450 to 750 mm (1½ to 2\ ft) according to variety.

Likes full sun; does not divide well; usually last three in the border; raise some plants from seed each year. Can be had in innumerable delicate shades of many colours. My favour ite, glandulosa, pure light blue 900 mm (3 ft) tall. Flowers June-July. J

ARTEMESIA The Wormwood. Chiefly grown for its grey feathery foliage. Flowers creamy white. In season in July and August. The plants always look tidy. My favourite, Lactiflora, a creamy-white, fragrant, summer flowerer, growing 1.5 m (5 ft) tall.

ARMERIA The Thrift. Makes a tufted plant out of which grows thin wiry stems bearing balls of pink or reddish flowers. Likes a well-drained soil with full sun. My favourite, Bees Giant Ruby. ASTER See Michaelmas daisies.

BOCCONIA A tall imposing plant bearing golden feathery flower plumes and lovely greyey-bluish foliage. Height 2 m (6 ft). Useful from June-September. A gross feeder; can do with liquid manure weekly during the growing season. Can be a nuisance as it spreads so.

CAMPANULA Commonly called the Bell-flower. A huge family whose plants flower in June and July though a few may extend till August. Height anything from 600 mm to 1.8 mm (2 to 5-3,- ft) according to variety. Colour, white or blue. The plants like full sun but will do well in partial shade. A tidy grower. My favourite Telham Beauty, a pale blue, flowers in June, stems 1 m (3 ft) high.

CATANANCHE A delightfully neat plant whose flowers remind me of an everlasting cornflower – if there is such a thing. There is a deep blue, C. ccerula, and a white C. alba. They love full sun. They grow 600 mm (2 ft) high and flower from June till August.

CENTALRE A The perennial Cornflower. Grows almost anywhere. Flowers may be blue, yellow, rose or white. Season, May and July-September. Grows 600 mm to 1.5 m (2 to 5 ft) according to variety. C. macrocephala is a golden yellow, 1.2 m (4 ft). C. montana can be had in blue, pink or white, 450 mm (\\ ft) and C. dealbata, a pink, 600 mm (2 ft).

CENTRANTHUS Commonly called Red Valerian. Flowers in July with blooms on stems 450 mm (1 \ ft) tall, either red or white. Loves a chalky soil.

CHRYSANTHEMUM MAXIMUM Called the Ox-eyed Daisy or large marguerite. Grows 1.3 to 1.5 m (4J to 5 ft) tall according to variety. Large daisy-like flower with bright golden centre. In season June-October according to variety. There are varieties with frilled petals like Mrs Collier, my favourite, Esther Read, a pure white double 600 mm (2 ft) tall, flowers from July-September. (I have included the Moon Daisies C. uliginosum and the Ox-eyed daisies C. leucanthemum, etc., all under this heading. COREOPSIS Bears bright yellow daisy-like flowers from June-September on stem 600 to 900 mm (2 to 3 ft) high. Rather an untidy grower. My favourite, Sunburst, a double. DELPHINIUM One of the most beautiful herbaceous plants there is. A gross feeder and requires rich soil, manure and moisture. Michaelmas daisies are often planted in front to cover up the bare patches after the plants have been cut down. Height 1 to 2 m (3½ to 6 ft) according to variety. Colour, every shade of blue, often with a touch of pink or mauve. There is a white variety now and a pink. Season, June-July. There are two distinct sections, D. datum and D. belladonna. The Elatum is the tall section and the Belladonna the group with plants of a dwarf or bushy habit, valuable for planting towards the front of a border. My favourite Belladonna is Peace, an intense blue; my favourite Elatum, Ann page.

DIANTHUS Commonly called pinks. A useful border plant with grey-green spiky foliage. The pinks are usually 300 mm (1 ft) high and the border carnations 450 mm (1-|~ ft). The pinks can be had as whites or pinks and the border carnations in all kinds of colours. My favourite pink is Mrs SinMns, a pure double white of satin-like texture, and my favourite border carnation, Beauty of Cambridge, a distinct pale yellow. Pinks succeed in the coldest of soils; border carnations require more drainage. DICENTRA Commonly called the Bleeding Heart. A dwarf plant about 600 mm (2 ft) high with lovely ornamental foliage and dainty heart-shaped pendant flowers. Bright pink. Flowers from May till July. Likes liquid manure during the growing seasons till the buds appear. Will grow in sun or slight shade. Looks well with Solomon’s Seal.

DORONICUM Commonly called Leopard’s Bane. Produces yellow daisy-like flowers from April to June on stems 450 to 900 mm (1½ to 3 ft) high according to variety. Will grow anywhere. Cut back after flowering and the second crop will be produced in late summer. My favourite, Harper Crewe.

ECHINOPS Commonly called the Globe Thistle. Bears thistle-like flowering balls blue in colour on stems 1 to 1.5 m (3 to 5 ft) tall from August till September. Look well near gypsophila. My favourite, Ritro. EREMURUS Produces a tall majestic spike of flower 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) high according to variety. Flowers from May till July with yellow, white or pink flowers according to variety. These handsome plants need special care, but they are gorgeous when well grown. They like rich soil, and they hate disturbance. Protect during winter with bracken. My favourite, E. elwessianus, a pale pink, 3 m (10 ft). Give it a sheltered position.

ERIGERON Sometimes called Flea-bane. Bears pink, mauve or purple daisy-like flowers with a yellow centre. Grows 300 to 750 mm (1 to 2\ ft) tall and is in flower from May till August. Must be well supported with pea sticks. My favourite, Serenity, a violet blue, 600 mm (2 ft).

ERYNGIUM The Sea Holly. Bears thistle-like flower heads, and has spiky foliage. Grows 600 mm to 1.2 m (2 to 4 ft) tall with flowers and stems of a steely blue. Season, from July-September. Excellent as cut flower. Likes sunny position and prefers sandy soil. The glaucous blue foliage of this plant adds unusual colour to the border. My favourite, E. oliverianum, a lovely blue.

FUNKIA (syn. Hostd) The Plantain Lily. A dwarf growing broad-leaved plant often grown entirely for its ornamental foliage. Bears white or lilac flowers in July on stems 450 to 900 mm (1£ to 3 ft) high. A plant that loves shade and moisture. Does well at the foot of a wall. My favourite, F. sieboldiana, a lilac white, 450 mm (18 in) tall.

GAILLARDIA An untidy grower which has few leaves. Flowers yellow and red of a daisy type. Height 600 to 900 mm (2 to 3 ft) and the flowering season from June-September. Easy to grow almost anywhere. My favourite, Ipswich Beauty, crimson with a golden edge, 900 mm (3 ft) tall.

GALEGA Goat’s Rue. Tall, feathery vetch-like plant, which bears white or mauve flowers in June or July. Grows 1 to 1.5 mm (3 to 5 ft) tall according to variety. Should be planted towards the back of the border to allow later flowen to conceal it after flowering. Does well almost anywhere. My favourite, Duchess of Bedford, a bright mauve, 1 m (3 ft) tall.

GERANIUM PRATENSE Commonly called Cranesbill. (Should not be confused with the bedding type of geranium, which is commonly given this name by amateurs.) This is a plant of neat bushy growth with attractive foliage. The leaves produce pretty autumn tints later. Grows 300 to 900 mm (1 to 3 ft) high, bearing blue, purple or crimson or pink flowers from June-July. Is good for the front of the border ; likes light well drained soil. My favourite, Mrs Kendall Clarke, because of its deep blue flowers on stems 450 mm (1| ft) tall.

GEUM A neat plant, with dwarf fern-like foliage. The strawberry-like flowers being borne on stems 300 to 900 mm (1 to 3 ft) tall. They may be yellow, orange or scarlet. It is often in season from June-September. Grand for the front of a border, loves a sunny position. My favourite, Dolly North, an orange double.

GYPSOPHILA The most feathery plant for the border. Resembles a cloud of snow. Plants are covered with mounds of minute innumerable white flowers. Grows 1 m (3 ft) high.

Colour, white; though there is a pink, known as Rosy Veil. It is in season during July and August. Loves a chalky soil. Prefers full sun. Resents disturbance. My favourite, Bristol Fairy, a strong white double.

HELENIUM One of the best perennials for the autumn. Produces quantities of single daisy-like flowers with a col-oured ball-like centre to them. Flowers vary in colour through yellows, coppers, crimson and bronzes, and the stems may be anything from 600 to 1.5 m (2 to 5 ft) tall. The flowering season is normally September and October, but there are some July flowering types in the dwarf form. They suffer from lack of moisture in a dry season. Where shoots are crowded weak growth should be removed in spring. My favourite, Crimson Beauty, a bronzy red, 600 mm (2 ft).

HELIANTHUS A Sunflower-like plant growing 1.5 to 2.5 m (2 to 8 ft) tall. In season during August and September. Excellent for the back of the border. My favourite, Morning Sun, the best double sunflower, with a profusion of rich orange-yellow flowers on stems 1.3 m (4J ft).

HEMEROCALLIS The Day-lily. Has strap-like green foliage, with lily-like flowers freely produced during July and August. Each flower only lasts a day, and is followed by another produced higher up the stem. Grows 600 mm to 1.2 m (2 to 4 ft) high. My favourite, Black Magic, ruby mahogany.

HEUCHERA A dainty plant which resembles the common London Pride. The foliage is dwarf and compact; the flowers are dainty, minute and bell-like, being carried on slender stems 450 to 600 mm (1½ to 2 ft) high. They may be red or pink in colour. Season June-July. My favourite, Pluie de feu, a cherry red. Must be grown in a warm well-drained spot.

INCARVILLEA Provides a vivid splash of colour for the front of the border in early summer. Bears a trumpet-shaped flower and has handsomely toothed leaves. Likes full sun and a deep, sandy soil. Height 450 mm (1½ ft). Season June-July. My favourite, /. delavayi, a deep rose.

KNIPHOFIA Red-hot pokers. Their English name describes them well. They have long narrow spreading leaves and long spikes of flowers which when in bloom resemble torches or pokers. The height is 1 to 1.5 m (3 to 5 ft) and the colour yellow, orange to scarlet. They flower from June to October according to variety. They love deep rich soil, and in dry weather they must be watered freely. My favourite, Earliest of All, an intense scarlet.

LINUM The Flax. This is both the linen and the linseed plant. The flowers may be blue or yellow; the plants are dainty, the stems are from 300 to 450 mm (1 to 1-| ft) tall and the season from May to July. The plants are grand for the front of a border. My favourite variety, L. narbonense, a lovely sky-blue 450 mm (18 in) tall.

LOBELIA Not the ordinary little blue lobelia that people plant around the beds but Lobelia cardinalis. This plant bears brilliant crimson red flowers on tall spikes, 1 m (3 ft) high. The season is July-September and the foliage is slightly reddish. The lobelia likes a moist rich soil and full sun. It is dangerous to leave it out during the winter as it is often killed by frost. My favourite, Queen Victoria, a vivid scarlet.

LUPINS Grow 1 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft) high and flower in June. They are gross feeders and must be planted where the soil does not dry out. They quickly exhaust themselves and it is always wise therefore to have a young stock of plants coming on. Never allow the seed heads to develop.

There are a very large number of varieties with flowers in almost every colour and shade. My favourite, the Russell Lupins, which can be had in almost any colour desired. LYCHNIS The Campion. Most suited for the front of the border. Likes full sun. Grows 450 to 900 mm (18 in to 3 ft) high and is in flower from June till August, the blossoms being pink and red shades. My favourite, L. chalce-donica, a brilliant scarlet, 900 mm (3 ft).

LYTHRUM A plant that makes nicely balanced bushes of olive green foliage, plus erect stems, with terminal spikes of rosy crimson flowers. Height 1 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft). Flowers from July till September. Quite likes semi-shade. Moisture lover, so give water freely in a dry summer. My favourite, Robert, a pink, 600 mm (2 ft) high.

MECONOPSIS The blue poppy. Grows 300 mm to 1.2 m (1 to 4 ft) high according to variety and flowers from June till August. There is a yellow type known as the Welsh poppy. Prefers to be planted in woodland drifts. Loves rich soil in leaf mould. My favourite M. baileyi, which bears sky-blue pendant flowers on stems 1.2 m (4 ft) high.

MICHAELMAS DAISY See Aster Border.

MONARDA Sometimes called the Eau de Cologne plant. Has lovely scented leaves and brilliant round cushion-like flowers which have trumpet petals around the edge. Through the middle of one flower another will grow. In season from July-October and grows 1 m (3 ft) high. My favourite, Cambridge Scarlet. MONTBRETIA See chapter****************** 8.

NEPETA Catmint. A compact dwarf grey leafed plant which bears masses of lavender-like flowers, from early summer until autumn. At its best in July. Grand for edging a border. Cats love to sit in it, and should be kept off as they may ruin it. Hates a badly drained wet soil. My favourite, Six Hills Giant, 3 times larger than the normal type.

OENOTHERA The Evening Primrose. Makes a lovely golden yellow display throughout the summer. The flowers open towards the evening and die the next day but they

are produced in profusion and so the plant always looks well. Prefers a light soil. Height 150 mm to 1.5 m (6 in to 5 ft). Colour bright yellow. My favourite, Yellow River, seems always in bloom. Quite likes a damp spot.

PEONY One of the most gorgeous of all border plants. Has strikingly ornamental foliage and large ball-like blooms diffusing perfume. Height 1 m (3 ft), flowers May to the end of July. May be had as a white, cream, pink or red. There are three main divisions – the double and single Chinese, the May flowering and the Imperial group. My favourite ‘Chinese’ is Lady Alexandra Duff, my favourite May flowerer, Mme Calot, and my favourite satiny pink Claire Dubois, a rose and gold. Flowers in late June and early July. Peonies look well when planted in groups alone. They are gross feeders and hate being moved.

PAPAVER The Oriental Poppy. Wonderfully effective when grouped. Give a kind of oriental splendour to a border. Grows 600 mm to 1.2 m (2| to 4 ft) high and in flower from May-early June. Flowers may be crimson, salmon, scarlet, pink or white. Extremely untidy growers and unless well staked, flop badly. After flowering they look very untidy and bare. Try and grow gypsophila in front of them. Like a sunny position. My favourite variety Goliath, almost an exact replica of a very large Flanders poppy.

PHLOX One of the most popular flowers. Grows 600 mm to 1.2 (2 to 4 ft) high and it can be in flower from July to September. The large heads of flowers may be white,

pink, mauve or purple. Excellent in borders for early August when there is little else about. Have large clumps in the centre rows. Loves full sun. Thin out growths which come up in the spring. My favourite varieties, Skylight, the bluest of all, Firefly, rose with deeper centre, and Endurance, a shaded salmon.

PHYSOSTEGIA Also known as DRACOCEPHALUM. I am putting this in because it is such a fine plant for the late summer border. It bears stout stems and its flower spikes resemble those of the heath. It grows 450 mm (1J ft) high, it is crimson in colour and is at its best in September. My favourite, Vivid.

POLYGONATUM Commonly called Solomon’s Seal. It produces arching fronds and green foliage from the under-sides of which hang small white bells in clusters. It loves shade, grows to a height of 600 to 900 mm (2 to 3 ft) and is in season during June and July.

POTENTILLA Nice in the front of a border because of its brilliant colour. Likes full sun. Grows to a height of 600 mm (2 ft) and flowers from June till August. May be had as orange, pink, yellow and red. My favourite, Fire Dance, an orange salmon and scarlet, 300 mm (12 in).

PULMONARIA Sometimes given the awful name of Lung Wort. Excellent for the early spring as it flowers in May. Often has variegated leaves, bearing blue or red and sometimes blue and red, flowers on stems 150 mm (6 in) high. Will put up with partial shade.

PYRETHRUM One of the best herbaceous flowers. Grows to a height of 600 to 900 mm (2 to 3 ft), bearing daisy-like blooms, pink, red, white single or double. The foliage is feathery and fern-like and the season is June. My favourite, Margery Robinson, a single bright pink. Loves plenty of organic matter. Dislikes drought.

RUDBECKIA A useful autumn flowering plant but if allowed to spread too much may become a nuisance. Will grow 600 mm to 2 m (2 to 7 ft) high according to variety. The flowers may be yellow, bronze or crimson and the season September and October. My favourite, R. speciosa, a rich yellow with a black cone, 1 m (3 ft). It loves moisture and does best on heavy soil.

SALVIA A bushy type of plant with long flower spikes covered with little blooms. Height 1 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft), season July-September. Flowers blue or purple. They do best in full sun and will put up with quite hot dry soil. Love a mulching of organic matter in March. My favourite, 5. virgata nemorosa (syn. Superba), 1 m to (3 ft), flowers July.

SCABIOSA The perennial scabious. A lovely flower of pin cushion type which must grow in well drained soil -loves lime and full sun. Hates disturbance. Flowers are blue, mauve or white, on stems 750 mm (2£ ft) high, and in season from July-October. My favourite, Clive Greaves, a deep mauve.

SIDALCEA Worth while including because of its lovely pink or reddish flower spikes. Quite an unusual type. In season in July and August. Grows to a height of 1 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft) depending on the variety. There are mauves and whites but most of the good varieties are pink. My favourite, Rose Queen, a rose-pink 1.2 m (4 ft). Always plant in bold groups.

SOLID AGO The Golden Rod. Apt to spread tremendously and therefore to become too common. May be had in varieties that grow from 300 mm to 2 m (1 to 6 ft). Flowers of arching spray are always yellow. Season August-September, continuing sometimes till well on October. My favourite S. goldenmosa, has more solid heads than most varieties. Grows 1 m (3 ft) high.

SPIR/EA Commonly called Meadow Sweet. Has lovely ornamental foliage and feathery plumes of flowers. May grow from 600 mm to 2 m (2 to 6 ft). Colour white, pink or red. In season July till August. Loves a damp situation, and revels in rich soil. My favourite S. bullata, a rose red, 1 m (3 ft) high.

ST ALICE (syn. Limonium). The Sea Lavender. Bears mauve or violet flowers, gracefully with cloud like sprays. Good for the front of the border. May be cut, dried, and used for winter decoration. My favourite, Violetta, a violet

blue, 750 mm (2J ft).

THALICTRUM The Meadow Rue. Very dainty foliage, lovely unusual flowers. Grows well in almost any soil. Hates shallow planting. Colours purple or yellow. In season in July and August. Height 1 to 2 m (3 to 6 ft). My favourite, Hewitt’s double, a violet, 1.5 m (5 ft).

THERMOPSIS A lupin-like plant but of stiffer growth. Grows 600 mm (2 ft) high, is yellow in colour. Its season is June and July. Likes a light chalky soil.

TRADESCANTIA An unusual mauvy-blue flowered plant 450 mm (1½ ft) in height. Its reed-like leaves remain tidy throughout the summer. A grand plant for the town garden. Quite likes semi-shade, flowers in July. My favourite, Isis, an Oxford blue.

TROLL1US Rather like a huge double buttercup. Loves dampish soil, and in dry summers must be watered copiously. Colours yellow and orange, height 450 mm to 1 m (18 in to 3 ft). My favourite, Fireglobe, a deep orange 750 mm (2-J ft) tall. Flowers May-June.

VERBASCUM Bears tall stately spikes of flowers from large leaves formed in rosettes. Height 1.2 to 2 m (4 to 6 ft). Colour yellow and bronze. Season June and July. Should be planted in the back of the border. Likes sun. My favourite, Cotswold Queen, a 1.2 m (4 ft) buff terra-cotta.

VERONICA Bears short spikes of flowers which last a short period only. In season in July. Height 300 to 600 mm (1 to 3 ft). Colour always blue. My favourite, Shirley Blue, which grows 300 mm (12 in) high only.

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