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A perennial planting scheme for a sunny garden border – perfect for pollinators

Looking out at the rain from my office desk, summer feels like it's still a long way away.


Confined to my office for the day, I make plans for the year ahead. I take stock of my existing garden plants. I think about what plants might benefit from a change in position and consider any gaps that need filling.



Wild Edge Garden Design border, early May

Can I increase plant stocks by dividing or propagating any existing plants? Do I want to add anything new?


I make plans to replace a section of lawn with a planted perennial border. What plants can I include to increase the overall diversity in my garden and to attract more insects, birds and other important pollinators?


To create a sense of flow and continuity I always repeat plants in a perennial planting scheme. Repeat plants are like the glue that holds the planting together. They lead the eye throughout the garden and link separate areas. I also include as many different types of plants as I can. From trees and shrubs, to grasses and herbaceous perennials. They all have a place and the greater variety of plants you have in your garden, the higher the benefit for insects and other wildlife.


I've listed some perfect for pollinators perennial plants to consider including in a sunny garden border. These will provide a long season of interest through the year - with flowers from April through to October. Not only lovely for us, but very useful for our garden pollinators.


Rosmarinus officinal ‘Miss Jessop’s Upright’ (rosemary)


Rosemary foliage, garden plants Wild Edge Garden Design, Cheltenham

This is a beautiful evergreen shrub which flowers early in the year providing forage for insects when not much else is available. It's a good culinary and medicinal herb too. Drink rosemary tea to help your memory. Rosemary keeps its foliage all year long so is an excellent plant to include for structure. Plant rosemary as a standalone specimen shrub. It can be pruned to keep it to the desired shape and size.



Primula denticulate var. alba (primula)

This pretty Primula will add early season interest to the border. Flowering from April, the pure white drumstick flowers will brighten up a wet April day. Repeat small groupings randomly throughout the border to create a naturalistic feel.


Allium atropurpureum (ornamental onion)

Flowering from May this Allium can grow up to 75cm tall. The maroon-purple flower spikes will rise up above the rest of the planting and are loved by insects. Scatter individually throughout the border, placing between other plants.


Allium cristophii (star of Persia)

Allium flower head in a garden in Cheltenham, Glouccestershire

With pale purple, almost perfectly rounded flower heads, this Allium is one of my favourites. Loved by pollinators and beautiful as a cut flower too – either fresh or dried. This Allium flowers a little later than Allium atropurpureum so by planting both you will end up with a longer flowering season which means more food for insects too.








Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ (avens)

Bright orange flower head of Geum 'Totally Tangerine' in a planted border in Gloucestershire

I love this pretty plant. Tangerine coloured flowers appear on long stems above low mounds of foliage. A lovely perennial for the front of the border. Plant in groups of 3 to 5 and repeat throughout the border. Great for cutting too and another brilliant plant for insects.




Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’

Geraniums are such a versatile plant. This cultivar is an excellent ground cover plant. It has bright magenta flowers that flower for a long period from mid to late summer. It’ll happily scramble around other plants helping to keep weeds at bay.


Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ (Balkan clary)


Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' in a wildlife friendly garden in Cheltenham

A beautiful hardy Salvia with purple flower spires that last throughout the summer. A magnet for bees and other insects, this is an invaluable perennial for adding structure and interest to a border.










Knautia macedonica (Macedonian scabious)


Bright pink flowerhead of Knautia macedonica in a planting design in Cheltenham

A stand out perennial with deep red flowers that appear en-masse on long stalks and seem to float in the border. Attractive to insects, unfussy and easy to look after.








Leucanthemum ‘Becky’ (shasta daisy)

This beautiful shasta daisy has pure white flowers and lush green foliage. A free flowering plant which lasts throughout summer and on into September. The white flowers create a beautiful contrast with purples, reds and pinks. They're loved by insects and make a gorgeous cut flower too.


Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’ (sedum)

This sedum has such pretty and distinctive foliage which creates interesting contrasts with other plants. The flowers appear towards the end of the summer and are loved by bees and other insects. The leaves are edible and can be chopped and added raw to salads. The flower heads can be left on the plant over the winter months to add ongoing interest through the winter months.

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