When deciding on herbaceous perennials in a border, it is worth mentioning to decide how it will be seen. At a 360 degree or head on or at an angle. A characteristic of herbaceous schemes is varying heights so you don’t want something upright and staked masking something mat forming. Herbaceous perennial is a term for plants that die back in dormant months, and usually cut at base level. The goodness returns to their storage organ, the following year they return.
Upright (require staking – not essential / advisable. The plant won’t be damaged by being top heavy or by high winds).
Delphiniums like sun but do require a little shade. The perennial can suffer if overfaced with very dry conditions. It will flower late spring to summer and it needs deadheading to prolong flowering. Every couple of years, divide the plant to retain its vigour. Delphinium elatum ‘sweethearts’ good for beneficial insects, pink throughout summer. If you cut back immediately after flowering, you may get another swathe.
Hollyhocks have a single stem with flowers hanging from it. After the flowers are spent, the plant needs to be cut to the base. It is good houskeeping, will reduce disease but the perennial benefits too. Strictly speaking a biennial but in the right conditions it can return. It’s suited to a sunny aspect, well drained soil. These plants need support.
Penstemon ‘Blue Spring’ is a good all rounder but may still need a little more protection. It will do well in full sun and in a sheltered aspect. It is easy to grow but to ensure the soil isn’t saturated and not too poor.
Cosmos provide flowers from summer to early autumn available in pinks, reds. By dead heading you will prolong the flowering until the first frost. The plant doesn’t require any particular care and they’re tolerant of poor soil. If you don’t dead head though they will stop flowering. Cosmos atrosanguineus ‘Chocamocha’ is an exception to staking. more compact in its habit.
Phlox paniculata ‘bright eyes’ comes in pink but a variety of other colours, sweetly scented throughout summer, it attracts beneficial insects and free standing.
Echinacea provides flowers throughout the summer, requires no staking. Although upright, these perennials are robust and self sufficient. It is fragrant and attracts beneficial insects.
Salvia nemorosa is a hardy choice, providing aromatic foliage from late spring right through summer. A very straightforward perennial. Shave the top growth in spring and the plant willl come back with luscious growth.
Mat / clump forming (compact habit or sometimes spreading).
Nepeta is a low maintenance perennial. All it needs cutting back at the end of the year. It needs sun and a chalky soil, so full of substance. Common name ‘catmint’ since cats like rolling on it. It will attract beneficial insects, providing you with colour from late spring throughout summer. Again, dead heading this plant will encourage more flowers. It has a spreading habit so this needs to be at the front of a border.
Geranium or ‘true’ Geraniums are perennials. There is a bit of discussion on this. Those with ringed leaves, heavy aroma and furry leaves could be described as a ‘Pelargonium’. This is something else. It is very straightfoward to look after just not in wet soil. It will tolerate shade but performs better in full sun. It is drought tolerant and will survive in adverse conditions. It roots system will spread underground.
Sedums are a succulent but used in perennial borders. A compact cluster of stalks. It doesn’t require any support and provides pink flowers. A very hardy perennial that gets cut at the base in dormancy. It can be divided to multiply and benefits the storage organ.
Dianthus (Pinks) or carnations as the cut flowers are referred to. Clump forming of pink, red, white, purple. A grass like foliage, it will provide scented flowers through late spring and summer. The plant is drought tolerant but the more irrigation it gets in full sun, the better it will do. At the front, low growing.
Vinca (Major and Minor) generally speaking the difference is the size of foliage and flowers. Periwinkle is ground cover, mat forming and provides purple and white flowers spring into summer. What it does not tolerate are very dry conditions, not drought tolerant. Ideally to be in partial shade in well drained soil and some moisture is a bonus.
Osteospermum jucundum var compactum will flower mid summer to autumn, a spreading habit these perennials will fill in gaps where weeding would otherwise be necessary. A low growing habit, they like sun and water. They sometimes don’t survive a cold snap which is why they are considered a bedding / annual but with the right conditions they will come back.