Entire herbaceous borders devoted to perennials look stunning during the summer months and well into the autumn. Plants like astilbes, dicentras and bergenias, which need no staking, spread relatively slowly and are easy to pull up when necessary are ideal.
Herbaceous plants should really be supplemented in a landscape design with shrubs and trees, as they provide no winter interest.
If you are in doubt about a plants suitability, always find out whether it needs staking, how fast it spreads and whether it is prone to pests and diseases.
Phlox and perennial asters are prone to mildew, for example.
These contain a mixture of shrubs for structure and foliage and perennial plants, perhaps supplemented by annuals.
Generally, they require less maintenance than herbaceous borders, especially if the emphasis is on low-maintenance shrubs, with some easy perennials to add color.
When you plant the border, you will need to leave gaps to allow shrubs and perennials to grow. The gaps can be temporarily filled with annuals such as marigolds, poppies or nasturtiums, or bedding plants such as geraniums or begonias. This will help to keep down the weeds and look good.
Planting A Border...
After initial planting, you will need to water the border regularly in dry periods until the plants are established, but thereafter they should need little attention to keep them looking good over a long period.
Water the plants, and then arrange the pots in their planting places. Try to visualize the plants at their final height and spread, then adjust their positions, allowing room for growth. Dig the first hole, and add some well rotted compost, farmyard manure or slow release fertilizer.
When you are ready to plant, knock a plant out of its pot and tease out some of the roots. Start at the back, or at one end of the border.
Return the soil and make sure the plant is at its original depth or just a little deeper. Firm it with your hands or a heel to expel large pockets of air in the soil and prevent wind rock. Water thoroughly unless the weather is wet.