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Garden Notes - Border Plants


Border plants frame a picture, a scene in your garden. They unify a garden bed and sometimes an entire garden.

They can make or break how well your back or front yard looks. Consider where a border planting can add value and aesthetic to your garden.

Consider scale in your choice.  A deep garden bed can easily accommodate a slightly taller or wider spreading border plant; skinny gardens require little plants planted closely for effect.  

For a cottage style garden consider as Catmint, an all-time classic, Silver Thyme or Golden Oregano.

Formal garden plants can be clipped to form a short hedge. You might consider English Box or Euonymus Tom Thumb (Gladioli Restaurant in Inverleigh has a great example of this out front). A new gold form of Tom Thumb is also available and is dramatic in effect.

A native garden might use rock daisy or a small growing native grass or tussock such as many of the new forms of Lomandra.  I love Lomandra Tanika for its fine arching foliage and Lomandra Frosty Tops for its bluish hue. 

Functionally, border plants are far cheaper than almost all other forms of garden edging; they hold back mulch, especially from birds flicking through mulch, or chooks as in our case.

I love Society Garlic ( Tulbaghia violacea). It is incredibility drought hardy, its strappy leaves are greyish/green and lavender flower are borne for more than half the year.  The foliage when crushed emits a garlic aroma making it less appealing in areas of high traffic flow and constant disturbance.

Many varieties of succulents make good border plants.  Old fashioned Hen and Chickens ( Echerveria glauca) is a reliable favourite. Keep to the hardiest varieties such as this one and other similar tybes such as Echerveria Snowball, Echerveria secunda, House Leeks ( Sempervivum sp.) or Blue Chalksticks (Senecio serpens).

Dwarf varieties of Agapanthus are really effective. They are incredibly tough, long flowering and can easily be divided as clumps thicken. Look for newer varieties which do not set seed, the best choice for the environment.

Other strappy foliage plants suitable as a border include Liriope, a deep green strappy foliage plant available in a range of sizes and flower colors from white, to pink, mauve and purple.   It grows well in a little shade and is very hardy although presents best in composted soil with a little additional water and food.

Border plants must be suited to the climate and soil you possess. You want 100% success from every plant planted. If trying something a little different, plant a few plants around the garden and wait a year to see how they perform through period of both wet and dry.

Plant border plants close enough for them to overlap without overgrowing each other. For this check the spread of each plant.  Some plants might be planted at one or two per lineal metre; others might require five or even more.

A well maintained border plant will both look great and reduce maintenance in your garden. So next time you set out to make a change in your garden, consider a border planting and the positive effect it could make.

Cheers, Chris Hose