Do you have a sunny garden? You’re lucky if you do since the prettiest flowers bloom best in full sun. You can choose from hundreds of perennials for a sunny garden, each one even prettier than the next, and they make a wonderful display when planted together in a border. But what’s the best way to create a border that receives full sun? Don’t worry – it’s not difficult at all. Just roll up your sleeves and select perennials that thrive in full sun and that will look wonderful together. The result will be a splendid garden and a smile on your face.
What is ‘full sun’ exactly? If your garden receives at least five hours of sun a day during the summer, it’s considered to have full sun. Most plants available from garden centres very much prefer a sunny garden. These are profusely flowering varieties – perfect to fill both larger and smaller beds or to use en masse as a groundcover. But they also make wonderful plants for pots, containers or the mixed border. When you create a composition of spring, summer and autumn-flowering plants, you can enjoy a gorgeous display of colours in your garden from spring until the first ground frost. Most flowers also attract butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
The design process
A border is based on its combination of various perennials. A beautiful border without perennials is simply inconceivable! If what you want is a border with both variation and plenty of colour, create a plan – a design – for it first. During the design process, consider not only lovely combinations but also the flowering period, colour and height of the plants. A border is often composed of three rows of plants. The low varieties are arranged along the front, the medium-tall ones behind them, and the tall perennials at the back. This way, you know that all the flowers will be visible. To create a lively play of colours in the border, choose plants with flowers in a few contrasting hues. And don’t forget to add some attractive foliage plants since they provide an effective backdrop for your plant composition. Varieties with grey-green leaves are superb for this because their almost neutral colour will tie together diverse colours within the border. A good example is Artemisia.
There are so many varieties of perennials that prefer full sun that it would be impossible to list them all here! When you go to the garden centre, however, look for Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica), Sneezeweed (Helenium), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Phlox, Bellflower (Campanula) and Delphinium. All of these sturdy perennials will produce masses of flowers in full sun. But what if your sunny site is somewhat dry? In that case, choose drought-tolerant varieties such as Catnip (Nepeta), Salvia, Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) and Ornamental Oregano (Origanum).
The planting process
Perennials are for sale from early spring until autumn. You can introduce perennials purchased in pots into your garden at any time of year except during freezing weather. The best times for planting a border are spring or autumn. Use a garden trowel to dig a generously sized hole in the ground at the spot where the plant will be located. Remove the plant from its pot and carefully separate the roots on the surface of the root ball a little. Now place the plant at the proper height in its planting hole so that the top surface of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Fill in the planting hole with soil and firmly tamp down the surface of the surrounding soil. Then water generously. Perennials will live for a long time and will emerge from their roots every spring, so you will be enjoying your purchase for years to come.
- When planting, it is important to space the plants properly. If in doubt, consult the label. Small plants are spaced about 20-25 cm apart, while large ones will need a distance of 50 cm apart. For large plants such as Persicaria amplexicaulis, you will need three plants per square metre. For most of the somewhat smaller varieties, 5 to 7 plants per square metre will be enough. When the space in the border is properly filled, you will leave little room for weed growth.
- Looking for a nice combination of perennials for full sun? Contrast the spike-shaped violet flowers of Salvia against the flat orange flowerheads of Yarrow (Achillea).