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Six ways to get the most out of your plants

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With a bit of forward-thinking in your garden, you can make your plants work hard for you. Before planting a new border, or investing in new plants, it’s a good idea to take time to plan your maintenance and what you’re going to grow.

If you’re anything like me, it’s very easy to get carried away in the garden centre or at a flower show with impulse buys and sometimes this really pays off. Usually though, the best plants that will perform really well are those that you have taken time to plan.

Here are six top tips to help you get the most out of your plants.


Good soil is so important in order to get the most out of your plants. If you’re digging a new bed, be sure to add a good deal of organic matter. If you’re in an area with clay, it’s a good idea to dig in organic matter mixed with grit to improve the drainage. Whatever your soil type, applying a good mulch annually in autumn will improve your soil immensely, and therefore your plants will be happier and healthier. This will also protect the plants from the cold winter weather and keep the weeds down.

Wide borders

Plants in a border will look at their best if the border is nice and wide. Having your border at least one metre wide will allow room for the plants to spread and develop and for your plants to grow in harmony, rather than looking crammed in. If your garden is small, consider having a couple of wider borders in specific places, rather than narrow borders along the whole perimeter.

Right plant, right place

This is an obvious one but these words of wisdom are used so often because they are so essential. Plants will only thrive if they are given the conditions that they need. Light levels, aspect, type of soil and enough space to grow for their size are all essential elements. The RHS website is the Holy Grail for this information!

Tidy your borders

Keeping on top of weeding and regularly tidying borders will help your plants to look great. In the spring, clump-forming, summer-flowering perennials (such as Agapanthus and Salvias) which have become over grown should be lifted and divided. These plants will benefit greatly from being split and as an added bonus you will then have two plants. To do this, carefully dig the plant out with a fork and then cut in half either with your hands for small plants or a spade.


Topiary, hedging or clipped plants through a border will provide a great structure throughout the year. This can provide a background for softer perennial planting which can come through in the warmer months. The structured planting will set off the softer planting around it.

Consider the textures and colours

If you have a mixture of textures and colours, your plants will stand out from one-another. Consider combining plants which have different shapes such as spiky plants, daisy shaped flowers or softer textures. The different shapes will contrast each other and provide interest in the border.

Play around with colour too. Think about colour through the year and which plants will be flowering at the same time. You can create a great effect by either toning or contrasting flowers with foliage colours or be bold and choose a clashing palette for a more daring look.


Attributed to Catherine Chenery an award-winning garden designer and botanical stylist. Catherine will be speaking at The House & Garden Festival taking place 20-24 June at Olympia London. Bringing together a distinct yet complementary collection of luxury lifestyle events, the Festival is comprised of The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, GROW London, Spirit of Summer and the HOUSE fair. 

The House & Garden Festival will run from Wednesday 20th until Sunday 24th June, with The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia event running from Wednesday 20th until Wednesday 27th June.