We only have a small flower bed at the front of the house and this is planned to have some colour all year round. The herbaceous perennials were chosen on the basis of their long flowering period and most have lived up to expectation.
The perennials are under-planted with spring bulbs - mainly short growing varieties to stay in proportion to the bed.
Each year in order to allow the bulbs to do their stuff, the perennials need to be cut back. As I could spot the bulbs trying to force their way through the greenery I decided the time had come to get handy with the secateurs.
The penstemons have become large thick clumps and I will soon need to divide them. They are definitely a good choice of plant if a long flowering period is a consideration. The photos below were taken in December.
Some of the hardy geraniums hang on to a sprinkling of flowers throughout the year and also self seed even in the most unlikely places including in any gaps they can find in the paving. The plant in the top photo below is by our front door step and has had a flower for months.
To fill some gaps I planted some antirrinhums which also self seed. Both these and the hardy geraniums will need to be kept in check.
Although I still need to do a bit of general tidying up the bulbs have responded quickly and are now producing their flowers.
Not all the perennials have been as successful as the ones described above. The two rudbeckias started life well but now, although they have produced flowers, for some reason the plants don't grow strongly or produce a good display. However, the biggest disappointment has been aster novae angliae Purple Dome. It is a strong growing plant which produces buds but never seems to manage to come into flower before it begins to go over.
Being a small front garden patch, the plants in this bed have to earn their place so I think I'll move Purple Dome and replace it with a phlox. I'll maybe also add another phlox if I can find a suitable gap.
The bed still needs a little more of a general tidy up and I'll apply a general fertiliser - maybe fish blood and bone to the ground before the perennials produce more growth and then hope for another good display throughout this coming gardening year.
More photos of this bed and a planting plan are here on my website