Gardener’s Notes: Filling the gaps in the garden

Walter Funcke Achillea PNL-140430-104506001
Walter Funcke Achillea PNL-140430-104506001

Like most of you I spent my spare moments in the last few days indulgently filling in holes with more plants in my borders and squeezing extra colour in any gaps I could make.

Before I began I broke up the soil around my plants, removed the weeds and added a bit of compost. Only then did I allow myself to look for the spaces where something hadn’t thrived or there was a gap. I like to carpet the bed with colour.

Iris PNL-140430-104444001

Iris PNL-140430-104444001

Choosing a plant is a big dilemma and here at the nurseries we are frequently asked to help. I find working to colour schemes helps. My perennial borders have loose colour themes so when I need a plant to fill a space the first thing I consider is what shade of flower or foliage would blend into the space and then does it suit the drainage, our clay soil and garden position.

A lot of gardening involves experimenting with positions so don’t be too wary of planting something you love if it looks perfect and seeing if it will tolerate that position – you can move it at a later date. It might tolerate more shade than is ideal or perhaps you can improve the drainage with grit or increase moisture retention with composts.

I have noticed the garden is forever changing. Originally my garden was the corner of a field facing north. As the trees and shrubs have grown it has establish areas of dappled shade, sheltered spots and woody areas. It is constantly evolving so hot spots and shady moist patches have swapped and changed. It’s now far more interesting to plant but clearly some plants are not it the absolute correct place and they still grow.

In most rooms within our home and in most outfits that we wear we consider the colours and we try and make sure they go together. Nature appears to mix all these colours up outside and soften them into acceptability with shades of green but in our own garden we can control our colour scheme.

Crocosmia Lucifer PNL-140430-104455001

Crocosmia Lucifer PNL-140430-104455001

In one of my favourite borders around a swing seat I plant rusty bronze with orange, yellow, dark purple and red. I also add white highlights and a tiny bit of neutral blue. It’s my sentimental way of remembering my rusty brown old collie. This is a hot colour scheme and it gives a vibrant lift of bold colour to the far corner of my garden.

Through the tall shrubs at the back I added the scrambling orange peel clematis Bill Mackenzie for late summer excitement. Euphorbia’s fill some shady spaces. Established white hellebores dominate at the moment with purple phaeums geraniums but I have a bronze and a deep purple bearded iris waiting to be adored. A rusty border of Heuchera Marmalade contrast with the dark red leaves of good old reliable Heuchera Palace purple with a sprinkling of ground cover Blue Sunrise geraniums. These as the name suggests have golden foliage and a vivid blue flower but are not invasive.

Dicentra formosa var alba adds a lovely drift of white. In the gap I found I added an apricot errisium and it looks great against the dark red. The mauve errisiums, Bowles Mauve and Winter Joy have had such an exceptional long flowering spell so thought it a good choice. These perennial wallflowers are tough and great for filling gaps with a burst of colour.

When we move into summer this border should not lose its colour, the heuchera foliage will continue and will be accompanied by the side border echoing the hot reds oranges and softer blue hues. I have summer flowering Paprika, Walter Funcke and Terracotta Achillea in tall fluffy mixed clumps interjected with red flames of crocosmia. I also have more tall clumps of magnificent Helenium Moerheim Beauty with white leucanthemum and yellow anthemis daisies. These flower through the late summer and well into autumn.

Last year my collection of early orange geums and later in the autumn the Aster Frikartii Monch outperformed everything. This year I am hoping my more established tall fluffy Stipa grasses at the back thrive and looking forward to my blue Geranium Rozanne and frothy Alchemillia Mollis edging.

Once you have an established colour theme whatever you choose it’s good and it’s easy to repeat another drift or clump of something that tones into a spaces but also make sure you have white highlights to lift the colours bringing your eye to the border just continue to stick to your colours and it will look fantastic.