Getting the balance in the garden right

A bumblebee on lavender.
A bumblebee on lavender.

When summer arrives, all the structural shrubs in a garden develop interesting new foliage, which secures their display status, but they are joined by a raft of herbaceous perennials, annuals and bulbous plants in a riot of colour.

The choice is seemingly endless, but we only add as many personal favourites as maintenance time allows.

The important considerations for me in allocating valuable border space to any plant are: How long they will flower, have they potential as cut flowers for a vase and will they attract wildlife. French and English lavenders are popular because they’re alive with bees and butterflies throughout summer. It is a bonus that they are also highly scented, can be made into posies or packed into pillow bags or pomanders.

The cheapest and most satisfactory way to acquire them is buying a packet of seeds whose cost is almost negligible. It takes two years before they’re ready for the garden, but there follows five to 10 years of flower productivity depending on the level of annual pruning.

Stems become woody and brittle very quickly if they’re neglected. We have dwarf lavender hedges running up each side of the drive and the number of blooms per metre can be counted in hundreds, but if space is limited, a small group in a container can achieve the same objective.