Well, most of the formal borders face east, and were shaded by overgrown shrubs and perennials which hadn't been divided in many years. The south-facing border is unfortunately super-dry and in parts quite shady, thanks to the huge eucalyptus tree that sits in the middle of it.
So - what to do?
There was nothing I could do about the drying effects of the eucalyptus, so I edged the front of that border with drought-tolerant plants.
We pruned back the shrubs to let in a bit more light , and I lifted and divided as many of the perennials as I could. I planted some Hydrangea aborescens 'Annabelle' along the east-facing borders, and these are now popping out in large white balls against the green background. Interestingly, the day lilies have flowered much better this summer, and with a much stronger peach colour, after I divided and replanted them last autumn.
Then I planted a lot of bulbs - tulips for spring, and alliums for summer - as well as plenty of penstemons, mainly the 'Garnet' cultivar, which is pretty hardy. I also grew from seed and planted on some purple and blue-coloured annuals like Delphinium grandiflora 'Gentian Blue,' Agastache 'Black Adder,' and Cosmos, as well as some Verbena bonariensis and a few green-globe Artichokes.
Did it work? Well, this summer has certainly been an explosion of colour. Now, if we can only tackle that eucalyptus...