Planting Styles

One of the services I offer as a garden designer is a detailed and considered approach to planting. When I talk about ‘planting style’ it can mean a number of different things.

There are well known ideas or concepts for planting that we could discuss, such as a ‘White Garden,’ or a ‘Blue Garden’, ‘Prairie Planting’ or some people are attracted to a green lush  ‘Foliage Garden,’ the list of ideas goes on and on. There is so much more to be said about planting style. Please read on for more information on that.

Call me if you want to discuss this more, Doug 0795 178 1577

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So what else do we mean by Planting Style?

Regardless of the concept, there are also a number of other considerations we may take into account:-

Plant Layout Style – Plants can be laid out in swathes. ‘Swathe Planting’ is where large groups of the same plant drift into other groups, fading and glowing more vibrantly as they begin and move through their flowering period.

Many gardens are not big enough to make good use of swathe planting so it’s best to plant in those sites, in small groups, making combinations that move around throughout the year. In those more usual sized gardens, I tend to repeat combinations in 2-3 places in the garden, that way we create impact across the space throughout the year as different combinations come in to flower and are then succeeded by other plants.

In recent years a lot more interest has developed in ‘Matrix Planting’ this is where individual plants are planted on a loose grid or ‘matrix’ so the whole area is always alive over most of the flowering cycle, with different plants and grasses coming to fruition at different times. Contrary to the name ‘Matrix Planting’ can be used to create a ‘looser’, more contemporary style, that although being a designed ornamental garden, also has a sense of ‘wild’ about it. We can discuss this and look at examples when we meet.

Time – When will the garden flower? Some people want a focus on a particular time of year, but I find that most people want colour throughout the year. They like the idea they will have bulbs in the spring, which take them to late spring when the first perennials start to flower, and continue to flow from one flowering combination to another until October / November. What about winter? Many plants flower in winter or can be left to look good when the frost and snow settles on them. These are all things to discuss.

Colour – Do we like bright colours or pastels? Do we want a refined palette of colours? Are there any colours we don’t like?

Practicality – Over the years I came to realise that one of the most important things to consider about a garden is the practicality. There are shelves of books which look incredible, but over the years, I refined an extensive list of plants that flower for long periods of time, and have characteristics that mean they are more ‘practical.’

What does that mean? Well sometime those plants have a longer flowering period, they are more likely to return year on year and are hardier against disease, one very useful characteristic is, are the stems of the flowers stiff, so they tend to stand for a long period, not being blown over in the first storm (even if we choose to support them.) So practicality is another consideration…

Light – Most gardens are made up of different areas of light and shade and so I am used to creating a practical mix of borders to take account of those conditions. However some gardens are fully in shade and may benefit from a more conceptual approach, for instance creating a fern garden.

Children and Animals  – We should decide early if we want to try to avoid the most poisonous plants, that can often be very beautiful, such as Fox Gloves (Digitalis spp.) or Wolfsbane (Aconitum spp.)

 Planting is dynamic and detailed part of creating a garden, and I hope this page gave you an idea of the many aspects of planting, that we can discuss in order to develop your garden so it becomes a place that brings you much peace, joy and contentment.

 Please call me Doug to discuss more 0795 1781 577