In planning a border, you must consider how each plant can contribute to the overall effect. Think carefully about how plants will fit into your scheme. Concentrate on creating contrasts in shape and form, in color or texture – spiky purple liatris next to a cloud of hazy white gypsophila; yellow achillea tempered by the plumy flowers of Artemisia lactiflora. Nursery catalogs and reference books are invaluable: it’s no use deciding to contrast a pink phlox with a blue hardy geranium if they are not in flower at the same time.
Except where a large plant is intended as a highlight or focus within the border, planting a single specimen is rarely successful. As in flower arranging, the golden rule is to group plants in odd numbers: three, five, or seven at the most.
In a long border, repeating groupings of plants will give your design a rhythm in the vast medley of colors, textures, and shapes.
A LITTLE REPETITION
ABOVE: Repeat plantings of fall clary sage confer a degree of formality and cohesion to this border.
A WELL-BALANCED THEME
LEFT: Spires of lupins and delphiniums contrast with the loose white pompons of a climbing rose, while Artemisia and sage link the planting at a lower level.