If you are planning on creating a parterre garden, first read our guide on planning your garden – this will give you some great hints. Then, it’s worth spending a little time considering which plants will work best in your edging. To help you out, we have some very helpful tips and advice on plants that often look good in the edging of a parterre garden

Parterre garden

Ideas for plants to use as edging…

There are a surprising number of plants suitable for clipping into hedges, but for formality and clean lines, box is the favourite. Box hedges can be created from either dwarf or common varieties.

Dwarf box (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’) is beautifully soft, tolerates hard clipping, and is ideal for hedging up to 30cm (12in) in height. It is susceptible to early frosts, but the bush soon recovers.

Common box (Buxus sempervirens) is tougher and usually escapes early frosts. Faster growing than its dwarf counterpart, it is ideal for taller hedges and topiary. Box should be clipped once its foliage turns darker green which is usually mid-June or, according to tradition, after Derby Day.

Colourful evergreens

Box at its best is hard to beat, but it can be prone to box blight. Fortunately, there are some excellent evergreen alternatives that include some of the variegated, compact and bushy varieties of Euonymus fortunei or the bright Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ that will grow from bare wood if clipped hard.

Another less usual choice, is Cotoneaster integrifolius, a shrub with small glossy leaves and, in summer, white flowers that open from pink buds, followed by bright red fruit – trim spring and autumn to prevent it from spreading too widely.

Aromatic hedges

For warm, sheltered areas there are several aromatic shrubs that readily form loose, less formal hedges. Alpine mint (Prostanthera cuneata) has small, lustrous rounded leaves and, in summer, clusters of pure white flowers, whilst germander (Teucrium x lucidrys) has deep pink flower spikes loved by bees and butterflies.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is also aromatic, bearing tiny insignificant blue flowers in late spring, unlike silvery cotton lavender which is a mass of golden flowerheads by midsummer. Then, there’s lavender – brushing through its long, fragrant blue flower stalks is one of summer’s pleasures.

However, lavender does not last long on heavy wet soil, or becomes straggly and woody unless it is trimmed into shape in autumn or early spring, avoid cutting into old wood.

More parterre garden advice…

The planting in between How to plan a parterre garden