September 9th Munch and Learn Recap: Fabulous Mixed Borders

Munch and Learn today featured Master Gardener, Linda Lanier talking about fabulous mixed borders in England and a few in the United States. Linda started by telling the Dixon crowd the key elements of a great mixed border which are structure, rhythm, repetition, four season interest, texture and background. Potted plants, benches and whimsical elements can also be used within gardens to create interest. She went on to say that borders should contain 3 D’s; depth, density and diversity. Backgrounds can be anything from hedges to walls and fences. There are also different types of borders that are created by using certain color pallets.     

Linda sent us on a tour of England for most of the talk. Our first stop was Hestercombe Gardens which has a beautiful gray border consisting of white, gray and lavender hues. 

Our next stop was a house familiar to many of us because of the television show Downton Abbey. Highclere features a white border, lavender walk, secret garden, and a recently restored arboretum that was originally established in the 1730’s.   

Sissinghurst has guest quarters on property so one can have all the time one wants to walk around the gardens. Sissinghurst is most famous for its white border but also has hot and purple borders.   Knightshayes Court has a border that is segmented by curved boxwood borders. The house also has a border garden that has a tall stone wall creating the perfect backdrop.   

There are several RHS, Royal Horticulture Society, gardens. Hyde Hall has tall boxwood walls, Rosemoor has a beautiful hot border and Harlow Carr has a striking border of purple and green.   

Marle Place is a family home where artists have been welcomed making it an artist’s colony also. One enters the garden through an opening that has been cut in a tall yew hedge. Since artists live there the garden contains many whimsical sculptures. One of the most fun elements of the garden is a tile wall and staircase made of pieces of broken china and tea pots.   

Linda is the Co-President of the Memphis Horticulture Society so she especially loves Holehird which contains England’s National Collection of Hydrangeas. It is home to the beautiful Holehird purple hydrangea which is a gorgeous purple with a blue eye. The National Collection of Astilble is also housed within these gardens. The landscape of Holehird is cold and windy so the garden has walls which act as wind breaks.   

Great Dixter was the home of horticulturalist Christopher Lloyd and now is a garden showcase and place of horticultural education.  Its gardens are known for topiaries and for even creating border gardens with potted plants.   

A few American mixed gardens of note are Hollister House,  White Flower Farm and Black Garden. Hollister House, in Connecticut, combines green and purple for one border and adds color interest in other borders by adding heuchera while another is a hot border.   


The Black garden is named after the family that created it and contains a sunny yellow border. 

-Linley Schmidt, Public Programs Coordinator

Posted by Chantal Drake at 12:57 PM
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