Take-home tips for brilliant borders

A selection of ideas for even the tiniest plot

Wellbeeing green roof
Wellbee-ingNo matter how small your space, there's room for innovation and wildlife-friendly garden features. Spotted in the Wellbee-ing garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2018, these green roofs sat on top of brightly painted beehives and bee hotels, adding an extra dimension to the planting. Green roofs such as this can provide a useful habitat for insects – especially when flowering plants such as these dwarf stonecrops (varieties of Sedum and Hylotelephium) are used.


Top tip: Green roofs make a pretty, wildlife-friendly garden feature, even on a small space such as a bike shed, bug hotel or bin store

Altrincham Blooming Strong Women Border
Altrincham Blooming Strong Women With its colour scheme of purple, green and white (inspired by the flag of the suffragette movement), the Altrincham ‘Blooming Strong Women’ border at Tatton Park showed just how well colour theming can work in small spaces. By paring down the range of colours, a sense of peace and harmony prevailed. Here the white-tipped leaves of Euonymus fortunei ‘Harlequin’ picked up on the colours of the flowers to give a long-lasting and smart display.

Top tip: Use plants with colourful foliage to complement your flowers and prolong the display

The Ensemble  Garden
The Ensemble GardenDemonstrating how different planting styles create different feelings, one side of The Ensemble Garden featured ‘block’ planting, while on the other side of the garden plants were more intermingled and flowed between each other freely. The combination of grassy-leaved red-hot pokers (Kniphofia) with grasses (a dwarf variety of Miscanthus) was a particularly successful one as the poker leaves can sometimes look bedraggled but mingled effortlessly with the smarter foliage of the grass.

Top tip: Mix flowers with foliage plants that have similar leaves to create a seamless tapestry

Rhapsody in Blue border
Rhapsody in BlueThis pollinator-friendly border (Rhapsody in Blue) proved just how successful certain plants can be at attracting beneficial insects – and that being wildlife-friendly can be beautiful too. Here, the spherical heads of globe thistles (Echinops ritro) contrasted wonderfully with the spires of veronicas and delphiniums. By growing a range of flowering plants, gardeners can be sure to attract a range of different insects. Wire bee sculptures added an element of fun too.

Top tip: Grow lots of different flowers with different shapes – they’ll look great and attract a range of wildlife to your garden

Rochdale in Bloom: The Silent Soldier
Although small in size, the Rochdale in Bloom: The Silent Soldier border managed to fit a lot in, with raised beds, two pieces of sculpture, a seat and a topiary spiral. However, by keeping it simple, colour matching and not using too many materials, the design retained a cohesive feel.


Top tip: By changing levels you can make a small plot feel much bigger and give it more visual interest

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.