COLOUR-PLANNING—A BLUE BORDER
Naturally there have been disappointments and failures. Many people have taken up colour-planning with herbaceous plants, for example, under the impression that it is a comparatively simple matter to get continuous colour-harmonies from spring to autumn in borders. It is, however, complex and difficult. Considerable forethought, much care in choice of material, and no small amount of skill in cultivation, are called for. Weather vagaries, and attacks by insects and fungi, are often overlooked, yet they have a vital bearing on results. It is perhaps wiser on the whole to be satisfied with bold groups, particularly in selected places near the principal paths, as shown in Fig. 636, where the formality of bridge, steps and paths is broken by noble border groups.
Colour-blends have, however, a peculiar fascination. The writer was deeply impressed with a “blue border“ under a terrace wall at Chilham Castle, near Canterbury, in June, and may mention some of the plants which composed it. As might be expected, there were delphiniums (perennial larkspurs), and one recognises with gratitude the good work of raisers in providing such a host of beautiful varieties, single and double, in all shades, There were anchusas, splendid in colour, but the larger kinds a little gross in habit. There were lupins, and here again one is deeply sensible of advancement; the habit of the plants is perfect for the border, and the range of colour has been widened to a remarkable degree.
Irises, both of the German and Siberian types, were a host. Campanulas were charming. One of the deepest blues available in a border plant was there in veronica True Blue, which, as a June bloomer, is perhaps of the Gentianoides class. The early-flowering flax (Linum perenne) was a valuable plant, albeit a little loose-habited. A variety of pentstemon with lilac, purple-shaded flowers, not often met with, named Scouleri—an effective plant —was present. Lastly there were violas old and new, the best of all low-growing blue flowers, It is not easy to get a blue wall-covering for a blue herbaceous border, and here a point may be strained, for there is a splendid evergreen blue-flowered wall shrub, used at Chilham Castle, which has every merit : ease of propagation, vigour of growth and remarkable profusion of bloom in June, and that is Ceanothus veitchianus, one of several good evergreen ceanothuses.
SHRUBS AND HERBACEOUS PLANTS
It is only the stickler over terms who will refuse to use a shrub, deciduous or ever- green, in or in association with an herbaceous border. Many irises are not truly herbaceous, nor are pentstemons in all circumstances, nor all phloxes. Some spiraeas are herbaceous and some shrubby, but why exclude any spiraea from an herbaceous border except on such grounds as coarseness? If it comes to that, why exclude all roses? It is really a question whether „ herbaceous border „ is not an unfortunate term, for it may cause some people to shrink from using any shrubby plant, while other people not only mix the types without hesitation—perhaps, indeed, without knowing the difference—but exhibit flowers of shrubs in classes for „ herbaceous „ plants at the shows, thereby running the risk of disqualification.
A flower border should be made up of such plants, capable of passing most of the year out of doors, as are suited to the circumstances, whether they lose their stems in autumn or continue to hold them throughout the winter, And again, the background, whether wall, or fence, or open lattice-work, may consist largely of shrubs, for otherwise roses and clematises would be excluded, Nor, with a strict adherence to the herbaceous character, could beautiful tubs or vases of hydrangeas be used for special sites: low walls (Fig. 637). pillars at the head of steps, terraces, etc., noble objects though they are.