The importance of yellow in the border


My small-scale quest to find examples of good late summer borders, and in particular mixed borders looking good now, has continued.  Hampton Court in Herefordshire is a pleasant cross-country hours drive from me and a garden I visit at some point most years.  I haven’t been this late in the season so it was interesting to see how the garden looks later in the year.


The walled vegetable garden was looking amazing in its own inimitable fashion.  I’m not a huge fan of veg gardens but there is always something fascinating as well as exuberant about Hampton Court’s garden.  They use a wide range of herbs and annuals to add colour and draw in the pollinators.  However this did not help me with my quest.


Although I was rather taken with the combination of the Chocolate Cosmos and the Nepeta above – another idea to take away and maybe use in my own garden.

2014_08270056For me the highlight of the garden is what I refer to as the Blue and Yellow Garden.  It always seems to look good whatever time of year I visit but I think late summer is its high point.  You can see there is a good mix of perennials in the double borders which lead to the wisteria tunnel and beyond.


Whilst I am always attracted to Inulas they are just too big for my garden.  I can say this from experience since I diligently grew some from seed a few years back and they took over the back slope and were a nightmare to dig up. However I do like the combination of the yellow and the blue and I think this could be a good theme for the Big Border at this time of year.  I already have some asters and a few rudbeckias so it is a case of considering other plants to incorporate which will also add to the interest at other points in the year.


Nepeta is a feature of these borders along with rudbeckias and they seem to add a rhythm to the borders which works along the long length but I don’t think I have space for that approach. Also included are roses, both yellow and white, and echinops which I had already added to my ‘to get’ list from my visit to Stockton Bury.


Interestingly although the border at first glance looks full of colour and flower when you look closely you can see that there are lots of plants which are no longer in flower but the vibrancy of the yellow draws your eye away from those.  At a recent talk by Rosie Hardy of Hardy’s Plants she recommended the inclusion of yellow in borders, even in small quantities as a highlight plant which drew the eye but also helped to lift other flowering plants.  I think in the photo above the rudbeckia really lifts both the nepeta and echinops.

2014_08270050I do like the use of blue throughout the garden at this time of year.  It seems to bring all the spaces together despite there being distantly different areas.

In the Italian Garden which is dominated by a long oblong pool the borders running either side are planted up with box edging and bay and in filled with verbena bonariensis, ageratum and I think heliotrope.  Again the blue and green work well together and I think it is food for thought that not all plants need to be in flower to provide interest and the green can be used to frame a small selection of flowers to draw attention to them and increase their impact.

Elsewhere echinops, eryngium and cardoons provide colour against the fading earlier flowers. However, this was not as effective as the blue and yellow combinations. So it seems that yellow is the way forward for the Big Border and learning from Stockton Bury pink Anemones is the way forward for the Cottage Border – luckily there is a path between them!



10 Comments on “The importance of yellow in the border

  1. The yellow is the best for a late summer garden. Blue and yellow are a very appealing combination. I’m trying to work more yellows in to my garden as well. Those chocolate cosmos are pretty too.

  2. The yellow and blue combinations do look good. I’ve seen them in a couple of other gardens I’ve visited recently and they do contrast and complement each other nicely.

    I think I’ve shied away from yellow in the past, outside of spring bulbs. However, I think you are right, yellow can be an important colour in the border. I’ll take away that idea, and Rosie Hardy’s advice on how it can lift other plants. 🙂

  3. Oh golly gosh another on my wish list! Yes the yellow and blue work well. I personally don’t like pink Japanese anemones. Love the white ones. Here you need to be careful where you have them, surrounded by concrete! They spread like the billyo!

  4. It is true that yellow does draw the eye, doesn’t it. I started some Inula from seed this spring and was wondering where to put the plants. I used to grow it in a previous garden but did not remember that it is so big. It is a good thing I read your post. It will help me place it.
    I agree with you that in the last picture the blue is no match for the rudbeckia.

  5. I love the use of yellow to contrast with blue – something I hadn’t considered as I have a very small garden myself and would have thought that yellows and oranges would ‘pop’ too much, and stand out too much against the beautiful but fading blues. One blue to mention perhaps (that certainly isn’t fading!) is Salvia Uliginosa – I have just purchased one of these tall beauties and at present have it standing in it’s pot by my back door – it is supposed to bloom its socks off until August through to november and has the most stunning sky blue flowers. Each time I open my back door I am blown away!

  6. What a nice photo of the chocolate cosmos. I always thought of it as more of a curiosity rather than a showy plant. I guess I’ve never seen it used well before!
    I’ll have to keep your comment on how a vibrant yellow will draw your eye away from less interesting spots in mind when I look at my garden this afternoon. I’m quite happy with it and I bet it has something to do with it’s “vibrancy”. thanks!

  7. I’ve always found yellow difficult to incorporat. Having a beautiful yellow yew in my boder means that more yellow is needed and you’ve given me lots of ideas. Really like the thought that yellow lifts the eye away from my fading plants.

  8. My goodness, those inulas are tall – glad mine aren’t as tall as those! How lovely to be visiting all these gardens – and it will be keeping you busy, which is a good thing. Hope things are OK at home and with your Mum too.

  9. I’m trying to do a blue and yellow border, inspired in turn by Jean’s Garden. My blue is mostly Plumbago, which the human eye enjoys, but the camera says Meh and ignores.
    But my yellow Euryops daisy catches my attention thru the window, or as I walk round the corner of the house. I do so ❤ yellow flowers. As I work thru my list of cuttings to move to False Bay, many of my choices, are yellow!

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