Most classic perennials in the border garden do best in moist, rich, well-drained loam, but others require less water. Select plants with similar sun, soil and moisture requirements. Locate taller, bushier plants toward the back of the border--or in the centre of an island border--with smaller plants in the foreground. Mass like plants together in clumps of five to seven individuals or plant them in "drifts" that flow through border sections, aiming for harmony of colours, textures and forms.
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An old-fashioned American flower, hollyhock is a member of the hibiscus family. Hollyhocks can grow 5 to 9 feet tall, depending on the variety--tall spires of big, poppy-shaped flowers spiralling around sturdy stalks that tower over other border plants. Hollyhocks are best against a wall or tall fence at the back of an extensive border, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Older, biennial varieties will successfully reseed year after year.
Excellent in a shady woodland garden or at the back of a sunny border, foxglove or digitalis is perennial or biennial depending on the variety and climate. In the right spot, biennial foxgloves will perpetually reseed. Depending on the variety, foxgloves will stand 2 to 5 feet tall in the garden, its tall stems covered with tubular, bell-shaped flowers in pink, purple or white shades.
Good in both sun and shade, spring blooming columbine attracts both birds and butterflies. It has delicate, lacy foliage and striking, starlike flowers that often come in complementary two-color variations. Larger columbine varieties stand 24 to 30 inches tall, and clumps can spread as wide. Columbine is especially effective when planted in masses and in woodland garden settings.
Larkspur or delphinium prefers cool climates. It grows from 3 to 6 feet tall, sending up graceful stalks circled with white, blue, purple or pink flowers. Depending on the variety and climate conditions, larkspur blooms from spring to midsummer, and it will often keep blooming into fall if you prune spent flower stalks. Larkspur likes both shade and sun, and attracts swarms of hummingbirds.
One of plant breeder Luther Burbank's best botanical legacies, the cheerful Shasta daisy is a chrysanthemum relative that attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds. Bright white petals surround a sunny yellow centre on most varieties. Flowers can keep coming all summer. They feature long stems and can last up to a week in a vase. Plants are robust, with deep green foliage. Most Shasta daisy varieties are 24 to 36 inches tall, but some reach only 12 inches in height.
Sunny clumps of long-stemmed, yellow, daisy-like flowers can bloom all summer long--and longer--depending on the variety and local conditions. Plants are easy to grow and trouble-free, and attract butterflies and birds. Long-stemmed flowers are quite cheery as cut flowers. Neat plants of most varieties stand 18 to 24 inches tall, perfect for mid-border placements, but some types grow much taller.
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