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Fee

Rainbow flower border

One of the first things that we'll be starting in the new field is a sensory garden and I really want to make a rainbow flower border, if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

It will have a wide wheelchair accessible path right up against it, along the length of it, so that Willow can be pushed right alongside but also turned to face it.

I'm thinking a lavender at the front on varying heights working back to tall red flowers at the back of the border. The whole thing will be in an almost semi-circle so it surrounds you from the centre.

So first up, tall red flowers! I think a variety will work well rather than all the same. Then working through the rainbow down to wheelchair height at the front.

The heavier the scent the better!
Fee

I think dahlias will feature in the reds at least, 1m ones
Mistress Rose

It doesn't smell, but lobelia can be found in blue, mauve and white for a low front to the garden if you need those colours. You might manage some cannas which are a rich red, montbretia which is orange through red, hollyhocks can be a range of colours. Perhaps some herbs for a range of greens.
Fee

Ooh good idea on the herbs for green! I'll have to draw a plan of heights, I think.
Mistress Rose

Sorry the others don't smell, but they are good colours and some are quite sculptural.
wellington womble

Have you looked at Sarah Raven’s plant catalogues? She has a ton of vibrant colours, and likes scent. There are some fabulous orange/yellow poppies and she does meadow flower mixes (I have a lovely blue one, with salvias and cornflowers etc)
Slim

You may be looking more for perennials, but there are some fantastically red sunflowers that you could find in whatever height you want.
frewen

How about nigella for looks and self seeding, some bright lights chard for colourful stems and eating.

Some chives and nasturtium? closer to the front

Stocks and lemonbalm for smell?

L ambs ears for softness? flower
Snowball

I also vote for red sun flowers.
Also stocks.
Maybe lupins?
I particularly love my corn flowers from the wild flower mix I used last year.
Slim

There are some lovely red rudebeckias and red yarrow as well

Red hollyhocks are tall
Fee

I hadn't though about red sunflowers!

Some great ideas!
Fee

Have you looked at Sarah Raven’s plant catalogues? She has a ton of vibrant colours, and likes scent. There are some fabulous orange/yellow poppies and she does meadow flower mixes (I have a lovely blue one, with salvias and cornflowers etc)


i got her cut flower journal for my birthday (actually, I bought it for myself for my birthday, I think you might have recommended her cut flower book, thought the journal might be nice for our first year in the new place). Also had a quick slick through her website.
Fee

There are some lovely red rudebeckias and red yarrow as well


I love rudebeckias so they're a definite!
Fee

Looking at the red sunflowers, they're usually quite a dark red aren't they?

I'd like them to be as bright as can be Smile
Fee

Actually, looking at this, perhaps a mixed border of all the colours of the rainbow rather than lines from back to front. Like this a lot and it would be more doable/maneagable.

Fee

That said, a more structured, tiered border style rainbow might be stunning in a sensory garden, a feast for the eyes!

gregotyn

I know nothing about flowers, but guess that finding the varieties of those plants you select, that all flower together to give the rainbow effect, may be a challenge. I await the outcome with interest. I know nothing about flower growing. Slim

Easier to avoid "dead" patches where all species in that sector were pre- or post- blooming as well Fee

I'd hope to grow as many as possible from seed, Gregotyn Smile gregotyn

It is talking them into flowering together that is important, Fee. It would be past my ability. At best I used to grow pansies for sale as a child. Now my idea is that if I or a sheep or horse can't eat it I don't grow it! sean

The first one's do-able. the second one's gong to involve huge quantities of bedding plants being bought in unless you're prepared to have it look like nothing much most or the time. IMHO. Fee

Ah,yep, with you. I think the first is the way to go actually, can make sure there's at least overlap of flowering season of different flowers and if there are gaps it won't look too cack. Jam Lady

1. Perennials from seed will take a minimum of 2 years, more generally 3 years to flowering size. Columbines are relatively quick, but also short lived.

2. Cultivars are true-to-name so you are certain of what they look like / how they perform. Most perennial cultivars are propagated asexually - by division or from cutting or tissue culture.

3. Since you are not certain what arrangement you want for your rainbow border I would suggest starting with annuals to trial the color scheme. If you like something, make notes in a garden journal and look for perennials that copy the color scheme.

4. Yellows are the most intense colors to our eye when viewed in daylight. Lavender / violet / purple intensify towards evening.

5. Colors adjacent to each other on a color wheel are harmonious. Colors across from each other on a color wheel are said to be "complementary' which means they are in strongest opposition. A little goes a long way to accent the flower garden. For example - majority of flowers in blue / violet / lavender with a little yellow or pale orange to accent.

6. Silver foliage helps to harmonize flower colors.

7. Go to a paint store and collect as many color cards as you can discreetly take away. Lay them out on a green background and rearrange the different tints / tones / shade to find some combinations that please you.

8. In general, annuals have an extended flowering period. Perennials bloom for a matter of weeks (two or three, over here.) And you can only have one plant in one space. Figure on 18 inches by 18 inches for perennials. Peonys want even more. Annuals in many cases are good with 12 inches by 12 inches.

9. Buy perennials in smaller = less expensive sizes, fill in with annuals for the first year or two.
wellington womble

Ah,yep, with you. I think the first is the way to go actually, can make sure there's at least overlap of flowering season of different flowers and if there are gaps it won't look too cack.

Annuals will give you a longer flowering season, and you can play around more with them. I’ll bring the book up sometime.
Fee

Top advice, Jam Lady! Fee

Ah,yep, with you. I think the first is the way to go actually, can make sure there's at least overlap of flowering season of different flowers and if there are gaps it won't look too cack.

Annuals will give you a longer flowering season, and you can play around more with them. I’ll bring the book up sometime.

I think the book I got is the same but with an added journal? I have plans for an entire cut flowers area Laughing The back garden will be mostly flowers. And a trampoline. And a swing seat because I've always wanted one Smile
Mistress Rose

You could do a mixture of the two. Why not borders that go from red through orange yellow green etc as you go along them. Looking from one end you would see the colours of the rainbow in order. Having them dotted around would be sensory overload if you didn't get it right. Jam Lady's advice is good, and particularly if you had the mixed up border.

Quite a lot of annuals will seed too, so although you would only plant them one year, they would continue for several. We keep getting old fashioned columbine popping up everwhere in our garden, and borage is another one that once you have it it is with you for years. At a distance borage also looks mauve btw. If you want some scent, pinks and stocks are good for that, and you can get some good colour in them too.
Nicky Colour it green

you want nice tough perennials, imho. and fill in the gaps with annuals

otherwise, as Sean says it will be buying in or raising huge quantities of bedding plants - plus a framework of permanent plants will give interest in the winter months too.
I am going to suggest hardy geraniums (not pelagoniums) - come in a variety of colours, come back year after year, and slugs don't eat them. ot scented but the leaves are slightly furry.
wellington womble

I might organise my cut flowers like this. If I ever get round to planting any.
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