Plant material within borders varied widely. Fruit trees, dwarf trees, specimen trees, shrubs, and perennial and annual flowers all appear in descriptions of borders. Borders could also house vegetables, especially when placed within the confines of a [[kitchen garden]]. As discrete units set within a larger garden complex, borders were useful for separating different kinds of plant material, as at [[Lemon Hill]] in Philadelphia, where borders of pinks and other flowers enclosed [[square]]s that were planted with vegetables and fruits.
A general shift, however, can be detected in the arrangement of plants within flower borders, from the “judicious” mixing that allowed individual specimens to be highlighted in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries to the use of masses of plants to create broad swatches of color by the mid-19th century. William Hamilton’s border at [[The Woodlands]] corresponds to the latter type in his desire to display a great variety of plants while maintaining “distinctions of the sorts.” [[Thomas Jefferson|Jefferson]], less interested in curious exotics, used his border to grow “handsome” or “fragrant” plants, and his 1811 letter to Bernard M’Mahon indicates that he had hoped to grow plants recognized then as “florist’s flowers,” plants appreciated for the unique beauty of their blossoms. By contrast, [[Jane Loudon]] (1845) and Joseph Breck (1851) both advocated massing plants and choosing plants for a constant display of color rather than for the flowers’ unique qualities. Throughout this shift, the notion of arranging plants in graduated rows from lowest to highest appears to have remained relatively unchanged. See, for example, the recommendations of English treatise writer Richard Bradley (1719–20) and [[Jane Loudon]] (1845).
—''Anne L. Helmreich''
*M’Mahon, Bernard, 1806, ''The American Gardener’s Calendar'' (1806: 16)<ref>Bernard M’Mahon, ''The American Gardener’s Calendar: Adapted to the Climates and Seasons of the United States. Containing a Complete Account of All the Work Necessary to Be Done . . . for Every Month of the Year . . .'' (Philadelphia: Printed by B. Graves for the author, 1806), [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/HU4JIS9C view on Zotero].</ref>
:“[[Espalier]]s are [[hedge]]s of fruit-trees, which are trained up regularly to a lattice or trellis of wood work, and are commonly arranged in a single row in the '''borders''', round the boundaries of the principal divisions of the [[kitchen-garden]]; there, serving a double or treble purpose, both profitable, useful, and ornamental. They produce large fine fruit plentifully, without taking up much room, and being in a close range, [[hedge]]-like; they in some degree shelter the esculent crops in the quarters; and having '''borders''' immediately under them each side, afford different aspects for different plants.”
Changes - History of Early American Landscape Design