Lush planting along swimming pool

Poolside border for year-round interest

Lush planting along swimming pool

A low-maintenance, high-impact planting scheme for a poolside bed in the Suffolk borders, with drought-tolerant plants and year-round interest.

East Anglia may be exposed to the cold North Sea winds but it’s also one of the driest regions in England, and on a clear summer day, this garden, with its sheltered, south-facing aspect, has a distinctive southern atmosphere.

The owners had recently upgraded their swimming pool to give it a brighter feel, and we suggested a vibrant Mediterranean planting scheme to complete the picture.

Because this part of the garden is visible from the house, it was also important that it should provide interest through all four seasons.

Three clipped hornbeam obelisks were included to provide vertical structure even in the winter, while evergreen herbaceous perennials and small shrubs offer year-round presence through the border.

Stachys byzantina, with its soft silvery foliage, offsets the mid-green of the broad Phlomis leaves, and the grey-blue shoots of the Helichrysum blend in with the pale-green spikes of the irises. Early-flowering Euphorbias, repeated through the border, jazz up the scene with a pop of chartreuse yellow.

At the front, the warm, straw-coloured stems of grasses such as Stipa tenuissima and Stipa gigantea bring movement at the slightest breeze, accompanied by Verbena bonariensis in the summer months. At the back, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ and Miscanthus gracillimus act as a flowy curtain partly clothing the freshly painted fence.

As soon as the weather warms, the architectural foliage of the Cardoon brings early drama to the proceedings, along with zingy Euphorbia cultivars, followed by the vibrant purple of Irises and the rich yellow of the Phlomis, and the purple of the Verbena.

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Although the owners are keen gardeners, they also wanted this particular part of the garden to be low maintenance. All the plants selected require only minimal tidying up or straightforward clipping.

Plant list

  • Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
  • Carpinus betulus
  • Cistus x purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’
  • Cynara cardunculus
  • Echinacea purpurea ‘Alba’
  • Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii
  • Euphorbia cornigera
  • Helichrysum italicum
  • Iris (Designer’s Own)
  • Miscanthus gracillimus
  • Phlomis russeliana
  • Stachys byzantina
  • Stipa gigantea
  • Stipa tenuissima
  • Verbena bonariensis

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