Tag Archives: Bees and Butterflies

Marine Border – Planting Design

Marine Border – Planting Design


Grasses, Achillea, Loosestrife and Bees Balm in the long border

Grasses, Achillea, Loosestrife and Bees Balm in the long marine border

The planting design for this 20 metre long marine border in Kerry has arcs of different species of plants separated by bands of upright Karl Foerster grass which provides structure from spring to late winter.  Provided there is shelter from prevailing winds, many herbaceous perennials are suitable for seaside locations. 

The planting is interspersed with Euphorbia characias subspecies wulfenii and Euphorbia martinii. The marine border has lots of sun and good drainage as it is on a sloping bank between the lawn and driveway. The plants are loved by bees and butterflies which buzz and flutter through adding their own colour and interest.


Two species of Achillea are grown here – Achillea millefolium ( ‘a thousand leaves’ ) and Achillea filipendulina ( ‘like meadowsweet’).  Both yarrow and meadowsweet grow prolifically in this Kerry location so these garden equivalents are good bets.

Several deep pink colours of Achillea millefolium 'Cerise Queen'

Several deep pink colours of Achillea millefolium ‘Cerise Queen’

The ‘Cerise Queen’ was grown from seed 9 months ago and has produced several different pink coloured heads which look gorgeous together. The foliage is very soft and feathery.





Achillea filipendulina 'Gold Plate'  contrasts with grasses and pink loosestrife.

Achillea filipendulina ‘Gold Plate’


‘Gold Plate’ provides eye catching bright yellow plates of flowers and contrasts with the tall grasses and pink loosestrife. Its foliage is deeply cut and a bright green.



Monarda / Bergamot

Purple Monarda  'Prairienacht' -  Bees Balm

Purple Monarda ‘Prairienacht’ – Bees Balm

Monarda ‘Prairenacht’ has rich violet- purple whorls of flower up its stem,  smells delightfully of bergamot ( as used in Earl Grey tea) and is a haven for bees justifying its common name of ‘Bees Balm’.

It is also in  the picture below with the loosestrife and crocosmia.



Lythrum / Loosestrife

Lythrum salicaria 'Robert' - pink loosestrife with Crocosmia 'Canary Bird'

Lythrum salicaria ‘Robert’ – pink loosestrife with Crocosmia ‘Canary Bird’

Pink spires of Lythum salicaria ‘Robert’ look attractive through the summer. It is a cousin of the native purple loosestrife which grows abundantly with the native orange Crocosmia or montbretia.  Here it is planted with a pale tangerine Crocosmia ‘Canary Bird’ as a natural companion.




Salvia vertillicata

Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain'

Whorls of flowers on the dark stems of Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’


This ‘Purple Rain’ variety of Salvia verticillata has a long flowering season to display its red-purple stems with its whorls (hence ‘verticillata’ which means whorl) of purple flowers.




Catanche caerulea

The prettiest blue flowers of Catanche caerulea

The prettiest blue flowers of Catanche caerulea

Delightful pale lavender-blue flower heads with dark blue centres (hence ‘caerulea’ which means dark blue) on grey-green wiry stems catch the sea breeze and are a very pretty companion for grasses.   Papery buds and seedheads are attractive too, but their heads are cut as they die to prolong the flowering for as long as possible. The bluer patch of the border is introduced by junipers and heathers and spring colour is provided by narcissi, tulips and alliums throughout.


The planting of this marine border was started in September 2012 and is looking good less than a year on.  It is planted through weed control fabric mulched with gravel which also retains moisture, deters slugs and provides protection from drying winds.

Summer Flower Shapes and Forms

Summer Flowers: Shape and Form

Summer is the time when the lovely and varied forms or shapes of the flower heads provide interest in their full bloom.   Grouping similar flower shapes together and contrasting them with different forms is a significant part of good planting design for herbaceous planting. The many choices of flower shape include include daisies, spires, umbels, buttons and globes. To keep flowering as long as possible, ‘dead-head’ the fading flowers to give the chance for many new flowers to bud and bloom and as the summer recedes leave the seedheads to preserve the flower shape well into winter.

Daisy Flowers:

 Orange Echinacea 'Arts Pride' with blue Echinops ritro.

Orange Echinacea ‘Art’s Pride’ with blue Echinops ritro.

Coneflowers – Echinacea have a daisy flower shape and are in flower from mid-summer through to October in a sheltered south facing spot. They have gorgeous cone shaped florets in the centre shown here in the orange ‘Arts Pride’. In the background, a round blue globe flower shape of Echinops ritro provides contrast of both colour and form.



Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'

Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’

Heleniums – or ‘Helen’s flowers’ – are another daisy form with similarly interesting bulbous florets. This one is ‘Moerheim Beauty’. It grows tall – more than 1 metre and needs sun and water to keep it upright.




Anthemis tinctoria 'E.C. Buxton'

Anthemis tinctoria ‘E.C. Buxton’

Camomiles – A great small daisy is Anthemis tinctoria E.C. Buxton.  It grows to about 50 cm with loads of yellow flowers and sparkles in pots or borders.  It too needs lots of sun.  Cut the flowers for flower arrangements with salvias and other summer perennials.




Flower Spires:

Agastache 'Blackadder' in front of pink Rosa 'American Pillar'

Agastache ‘Blackadder’

Agastache or Hyssop – ‘Agasta’ means ‘with great charm’ – and these smoky violet spire flower shapes of Agastache ‘Blackadder’ are particularly charming with the pink American Pillar rose behind it. 

It grows more than a metre tall and its spires grow like bottlebrushes crammed with tiny flowers and needs sun and shelter.  Many salvias have similar slimmer spires in blues, lilac, lavender and pinks and enjoy the same conditions

Flower Umbels:

Achillea 'Walther Funcke'

Achillea ‘Walther Funcke’

Achillea or Yarrow has lovely flat umbel or umbrella  flower shaped heads in reds, oranges, yellows, pinks and whites.  The plant is named after the greek warrior Achilles who stopped the flow of blood from his soldiers wounds with a concoction made from yarrow.  This one is ‘Walther Funcke’ and is rather funky with its changing colours of terracotta to ochre.

Other umbels include phlox, angelica and sedum and they all provide good contrast with upright spires of other plants

Button and Globe Flowers:

Astrantia 'Roma'

Pink pincushions of Astrantia ‘Roma’

As well as the blue globe thistles, maroon Knautia macedonica, and the palest pink to rich maroon Astrantias have the small tightly packed clusters of flowers that make a button or globe flower shape. Astrantias need a cooler spot with partial shade and combine well with Alchemilla mollis or ‘Lady’s Mantle’.  



All these flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies and by choosing different flower shapes and hence different species, a wider range of butterflies will enjoy your garden too.