It’s great to read your letters and very often I’m inspired by your comments, so thank you all very much.
Jo and Peter have just moved to Whiteley and Peter has told me that next winter he wants to design their garden with a skeleton of evergreens, but his wife Jo would like a good show of flowers this summer.
There is a curved border about 15 feet long and the width ranges from four feet to 10 feet.
They want to know what they can plant in this border for colour from now until winter.
I would suggest they have a look at books written by John Brooks. He was my tutor when I was at college and his books are full of pictures which will inspire.
It is really important to find a good design and keep to the plan, as it saves a great deal of money.
Most of John’s books are available at libraries, not in the gardening section but in Architecture (sub-heading Landscape Architecture).
I can understand why Jo wants some instant colour. The garden could look boring while deciding on a final design, so I would suggest having a look at dahlias at garden centres. The plants are in pots and a lot of them have flowers.
Dahlias are an amazing species and enjoy a well- drained soil with plenty of sunshine. They are also good in the shade but grow far taller there.
Single-bloomed dahlias, often called bedding dahlias, will look great along the edge of a border because they are usually about 18 to 24 inches high and are cheaper than named varieties.
Plant them about 15
inches apart and the ground between them will be covered with foliage.
For the rest of the border, take a notebook to the garden centre so that you can look at the heights of the plants, the type of blooms and the colours.
I never recommend
particular varieties because everyone has favourite colours and some adore pom pom flowers, while others love the cactus types or those which look like water lilies.
Colour arrangement is the art of good gardening – reds and orange look good together as they provide warmth, but whites and yellows seem to create space.
A good tip for beginners is to go to the garden centre on a quiet day, take the pots of dahlias on to a wide path, space them about two-and-a half-feet apart, arrange the colours and put a diagram in the notebook so that the plants can be planted roughly in accordance with the plan.
Do the same when planting shrubs.