Perennial Layout help

by Amee
(Redwood City, CA USA)

I've got a border garden of about 50 feet long and 3 feet wide in my backyard.
On one end I've got a pomegranate tree which I want to keep, and the other end curves out to about 5 feet wide and has a small avocado tree (which isn't really growing).

I've been searching online for ideas/plans of perennials but can't find anything for small borders. Most designs have layering of plants (some in the back/front). I don't think I have space for that. It would just be a single row of plants and I'm looking for guidance as to what plants to grow and in what order. I live in Redwood City, CA plant zone 9.

I've read a lot about not focusing on flowers and spreading them out based on bloom. But should I alternate the plants, or group them together? I'm looking for ideas like plant them in order like items 1, 2, 1, 3, 2 etc..and help with what those items should be.

Hi Amee,

Your long, narrow border has a nice backdrop with the fence. The light color will make the plants really pop. With a narrow width, like you said, there is not room for layering. What some folks don't know about perennial borders is that you can also interplant the perennial spaces with spring flowering bulbs like daffodils. This gives you two seasons of flowers.
Plant the perennials in groups or sweeps (not lined up) of about 12 plants. You need to use some plants with some height to them so the fence is a back drop and the plants don't look dwarfed. by the fence. The challenge with perennial gardens is that perennials don't bloom for the entire growing season like annuals. Some produce only a few weeks of color. If you use at least 12 of a variety and plant them close (8-12" spacing)then their flower color will carry the garden when the other plants are not flowering. Try to use long flowering varieties.
Some suggestions for tall flowering plants are canna lilies, Holly hocks, sunflowers (annual, so gives color for months), Miss Huff Lantana, German iris. These plants do well in VA. Hopefully, these plants can translate to a CA garden. I am not up on the plants for your area.
Find a good perennial grower or nursery in your area that can advise you on the best plants to use in each sweep.
Thanks so much for your submission and hope the information is helpful.


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Jun 15, 2017
Thanks NEW
by: Amee

Thanks for the guidance.

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