30 Perennials for a dry and sunny border

Let’s design a new sunny border to brighten up these dark winter days! Which plants will thrive in Burgundy’s clay soil? Winters can be very cold here (-17 Co is no exception). To make things worse there was no rainfall in July and August. For most plants those are stressful conditions. And who has time for careful maintenance of a garden these days? And what to do with the garden of a ‘maison secondaire’ in Burgundy? We must choose plants that love heavy chalky clay soil, are fully hardy and resistant to drought. Also plants must be not too attractive for rabbits, slugs and sometimes deer. And to add to this already tall order: they must be attractive and must not fall over.

Plants seen in the neighbourhood

Omnipresent in the (neglected) gardens of our neighbours are the orange daylily (Hemerocallis) and the yellow goldenrod (Solidago). Not very original, but they are a good starting point and of course we can always go for more interesting varieties/colours within the same plant family.

More plants for a dry and sunny border

In my Burgundy garden I try not to water my plants. As a consequence I see phlox, asters, coneflower (Rudbeckia) and Helen’s Flower (Heleniums) suffer in extended dry periods. Lovely as they are, you may want to stay away from those. Other plants are less suitable because they are quite invasive: bellflower (Campanula persicifolia ‘Coerulea’). But ornamental grasses are doing wonderfully here! Very useful: crane’s bill (Geranium, many varieties and colours), sage (Salvia), goat’s beard (Aruncus), Irises, tickseed (Coreopsis), yarrow (Achillea), catmint (Nepeta), wild marjoram (Origanum), Phlomis, blue star flower (Amsonia orientalis), stonecrop (Sedum) and peonies of course! And let’s not forget vervain (Verbena bonariensis). Not fully hardy, but selfseeds freely, and so pops up in unexpected places (not everybody likes that but I do).


Interesting plants to try

So these plants could well be the backbone of our future drought-resistant border in Burgundy. Plants marked with an asterisk I came across in my extensive garden library and on the Internet. They should well be worth trying. And since I find it hard to go without asters, phlox and coneflowers I looked for drought-resistant varieties. Here’s what I found: Aster oblongifolia ‘October Skies’, Aster ericoides ‘Blue Star’ and ‘Pink Star’, Phlox amplifolia and, closely related to the amplifolia family,  Phlox paniculata ‘David’. Also Rudbeckia missouriensis.  I’ve put al these plants in an Excel sheet and selected them by flowering period.

I’m going to try and make a border that flowers the whole year round. But we live here full-time. When you are in your ‘maison secondaire’ only during the summer you must of course choose  plants that flower in the months you are there. I’ve chosen varieties in the colours that I like. Sometimes there are alternatives. Feel free to ask me. Other questions are also welcome and perhaps you would like to share the plants thriving in your Burgundy garden with the readers of Burgundy Today!

30 Plants for a dry and sunny borderEnglish name
Achillea filipendula 'Parkers Variety'Yarrow100 cm7-8
Agastache rugosa 'Blue Fortune'Anise Hyssop80 cm7-9
Amsonia orientalisBlue Star Flower40 cm6-7
Aquilegia 'Ruby Port'Columbine70 cm5-6
Aruncus 'Horatio'Goat's beard120 cm6-7
Asclepias tuberosa*Butterfly Weed50 cm7-9
Asphodeline luteaJacob's wood90 cm 4-6
Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies'Aster40 cm8-10
Centaurea montana 'Carnea'Cornflower40 cm5-6
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'Thickseed60 cm7-8
Dianthus carthusianorum*Carnation70 cm6-7
Dictamnus albus 'Albiflorus'*Gas plant90 cm6-7
Eryngium alpinum*Sea Holly70 cm6-7
Geranium 'Rozanne'Cranesbill50 cm5-10
HemerocallisDaylily70 cm6-8
Iris germanica Sword lily80 cm5/9
Limonium latifolium*Sea lavender40 cm7-8
Nepeta racemosa 'Walkers Low'Catmint60 cm6-10
Origanum vulgare 'Herrenhaussen'Wild Marjoran50 cm7-9
PaeoniaGarden Peony100 cm6-7
Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'Switch Grass120 cm9-10
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'Fountain Grass150 cm9-10
Perovskia abrotanoides 'Little Spire'Perovskia120 cm8-9
Phlomis russelianaJerusalem Sage80 cm6-7
Phlox amplifoliaLargeleave Phlox140 cm6-9
Rudbeckia missouriensisConeflower50 cm6-9
Salvia nemerosa 'Caradonna'Sage60 cm6-8
Saponaria lempergii 'Max Frei'*Soapwort35 cm7-9
Sedum telephium 'Matrona'Stonecrop80 cm8-10
Stipa calamagrostisFeather grass90 cm7-8

Next month: plants for the partially shady border. In March: How to make a planting plan. In April: how to go about realising it. To be continued!

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