Many gardeners whether new or experienced think that in order to have the flower garden of their dreams they must have a south facing garden. Many inexperienced gardeners especially mistakenly assume that anything else is going to be hard work and that they won’t be able to successfully grow anything if their borders face to the north, west or east.
While it is true that many plants do exceptionally well in any borders providing the soil is healthy, south facing borders have to be carefully thought out. This is because a south facing garden will get the benefit of the sun at its hottest so you have to be careful to choose plants that are most suited to hot, dry conditions.
So while you relax with a cool drink on your backless bench from where you can peruse your garden from all angles take a look at our suggestions for plants you can grow in your sunny, south facing garden.
There are so many flowers which will flower for long periods of time when they have full sun. Having said that, you can make a sunny border so much more interesting all year round when you plant a mixture of flowers, herbs, bulbs and shrubs. For instance, there are many ornamental grasses which complement a flower border perfectly. They provide a contrast in texture and movement.
The back of your border, for example, could feature the tall, charmingly named Lagarus Ovatus Bunny Grass, so named due to its pale coloured rabbit’s tail flowers, together with the purple flowers and dark green foliage of Verbena Bonariensis. At the front of the border, what could look nicer than the silver blue of a Festuca Glauca grass mingling alongside a delicate Viola Cornuta with flowers of white or a yellow flowered Santolina.
There are so many cultivars of Clematis you’ll be spoilt for choice, but all of them feature spectacular blooms, and while they love the sun they also need to keep their roots cool so you’ll need to apply plenty of mulch to your soil. If you are happy with plants that require careful maintenance, then a grapevine or Wisteria will fit the bill. But be aware that regular, careful pruning will be needed to ensure success. If you’re looking to incorporate shelter and berries for garden birds, then choose a Pyracanthus for berries or Honeysuckle for fragrance. Variegated Ivy always makes a fitting backdrop behind a colourful border and has the added advantage of being evergreen.
Sedums come in various forms which provide colour from spring through to late autumn and are usually easy to maintain. From the tall (24”) Sedum Spectabile which has masses of pink flowers to a ground cover Sedum with its tiny star-shaped yellow flowers. These hard-working plants deserve their place in the south facing garden. The hardy Geranium – not to be confused with the Pelargonium – will reward you with lots of purple or pink flowers all through the summer months with only the minimum of maintenance needed.
Ornamental Alliums are also dependable workhorses in the sunny border. They grow from bulbs which can be left in the ground all year round and come up reliably every spring producing large, usually blue or purple, flowers around May. They are very attractive to pollinating insects, and the seed heads can be left on to provide winter interest and shelter for insects.
Euphorbias are another set of plants which fall under the easy care banner as long as they get plenty of sun. In many cases, colour is provided by the striking foliage for instance of the red-leaved Euphorbia Griffithii or the purple Euphorbia Amygdaloides. For more information on these versatile garden plants see the RHS website.
Helianthemums, or rock roses, are low growing shrubs. They produce flowers of yellow or salmon pink and can look equally lovely tumbling over a low wall. If you are thinking of annuals or bedding plants, choose Pelargoniums with their infinite variety of colours, Impatiens (Busy Lizzies), Gazania, Antirrhinum (Snapdragons) and Marigolds. Sweet Peas and Stocks provide fragrance as well as colour. In the middle of the border hardy Poppies and blue Nigellas are the undoubted stars along with Dahlias. Of course, if you prefer a perennial flower border, then the choice is vast from tall Heleniums, Iris and Achillea to tiny Dianthus and Creeping Phlox.
Choose wisely, and your south facing garden will be a joy to behold.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.