Monday, September 22, 2014

September in the Rainbow Border

The Rainbow Border, as seen from the end of the rainbow progression of colors. The effect can clearly be seen, which is encouraging, as that's what I've working toward.

My Rainbow Border is in Year Three (I planted most of the perennials in 2012), and it's starting to look a bit more filled in this year. Most of the perennials bloom in May and June: tulips, irises, Asiatic lilies, peonies, alliums and the like, but from July on, the color is carried by annuals: mostly zinnias, petunias and marigolds.

But I've been thinking that I should add some tall garden phlox toward the back of the border. Phlox is long-blooming, blooms later in the summer and is available in a number of colors:
  1. White: the two White Sections of the border seem particularly sparse and could certainly benefit from an expansive perennial like phlox), and 'David' does well in other areas of my garden
  2. Pink: phlox comes in both dark and light pinks, and more purplish as well as more salmonish pinks
  3. Red: I'm not sure if the reds are crimson/purple reds, or more like scarlet/orange reds -- I would want to see the plants in bloom before I could know where in the Red Section to plant a flower
  4. Orange: but the orange might look more pinkish salmon in color and not fit in with my true oranges in the Orange Section
  5. Green-ish: I've seen a "Green Expectations" phlox that is white with green petal tips, which I might order next spring to give it a try
  6. Blue-ish: 'Blue Paradise' and 'Blue Boy' both look like they could be pretty close to blue in color, at least in photos online
  7. Purple: I have plenty of this in my gardens already that I could easily transplant
In fact, phlox seems to be available in pretty much any color but yellow (although there might be a yellowish annual phlox that is shorter in height). But there are plenty of other yellow-flowering perennials that I could plant instead in the Yellow Section.

Next spring (how I already love the sound of that phrase!), I will add some phlox to see if it helps the rainbow effect look more pronounced in late summer. 

Seen from the other end: white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and back to white again at the far end.

Here are photos of each color section of the border:

The first White Section could seriously use some white phlox about now. The ox-eye daisies have taken over and not allowed the white cosmos to fill in as I wanted, and sadly, not much else is going on here. 

The Pink Section is a bit better, with roses, a mum, petunias and a single zinnia in bloom.

The Red Section could be worse, but I think I will try to move things around and add some plants next year to add some more color in this section.

I wish there were more orange flowers that weren't marigolds, but I suppose I should be happy that they grow so well in this spot. The California poppies that took over this section earlier in the summer seem to have waned, but the Zinnias look pretty nice, in my opinion.

The Yellow Section seems to do pretty well from late spring until fall. There are so many yellow-flowering plants that love full sun, that this section rarely wants for color.

The green zinnias and Bells of Ireland are going strong. I love green flowers!

The 'Victoria Blue' salvia is looking great in the Blue Section, with a few leftover delphiniums in back and bachelor buttons in front.

The Purple and ending White Section (with reblooming white iris). Some tall garden phlox certainly wouldn't go amiss in these sections. I'll definitely plant some here next spring.

That's it for the Rainbow Border, which I will continue to work on improving each year. Thanks for reading my progress report!  -Beth


  1. The borders look lovely! I also consider getting purple-pink phlox for my garden:)

    1. Aga, some people think phlox can be a little too expansive, as it can steadily increase in size, as well as sometimes seed around a little (although it is certainly not "invasive" by any means, not like some plants I would never want in my garden), but it blooms for a long time in late summer, a time when not many perennials bloom. Here on our sunny, windy hill I have had no problems with mildew either, but you should probably select mildew-resistant cultivars (most of the new ones are pretty resistant). Good luck, and thanks for reading! -Beth

  2. Beth, your September Rainbow Border is fantastic! I envy your ability to mix annuals and perennials together to create a a lovely year long tapestry. Salvia 'Victoria' is one my favorite annuals for it's color and ability to last late into the fall. I wish winter weren't so close....but you have a lot of color to enjoy for weeks yet.

    1. Karen, thanks for reading and for your nice words! I'm just realizing how nice annual salvia is, so long-blooming and of such a deep, beautiful color -- I think I'll be using it in more spots next year. I too dread the coming of winter, but you're right: there will (with luck) be weeks left for us to enjoy the last flowers of autumn. Thanks again for stopping by! -Beth

  3. Still so beautiful your rainbow border, good idea to use perennials and annuals together, it prolongs the flowering period.

    1. Thanks, Janneke -- I'm so glad you like it! Thanks for reading. -Beth

  4. I like your borders - still lots of color there. I like the Bells of Ireland; I have grown those in the past. Love the zinnias too. You have some good ideas regarding phlox. 'Orange Perfection' is in my garden and it is indeed orange (well, red-orange). I have 'Blue Paradise' too; to me, it is more purple than blue. As far as true blue flowers, as you know they are unusual: nigella, forget-me-nots, Bachelor buttons, Blue cornflowers come to mind. I know you'll find something that fits the bill! I enjoyed my visit today.

    1. Hi Beth, I'm glad you stopped by! I appreciate your advice about the phlox -- I suspected that 'Blue Paradise' wasn't really as blue as it appears in some online photos. You're right of course, that there are few truly blue flowers. But I'm glad to hear that 'Orange Perfection' is actually orange. I'll plan to include that next spring. Thanks! -Beth