Planting Styles

I believe in offering a considered approach to planting. When I talk about Planting Style it can mean a number of different things.

There are well known concepts for planting, such as a ‘white garden,’ a ‘blue garden,’prairie planting’ or a lush green ‘foliage garden.’ The list is endless, and I am happy to try to create whatever style attracts you the most, and to create your individual version of that. However, there are also other ways we can think about planting:-

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.

Small Group Planting – Many gardens are not big enough to make good use of swathe planting so then in those sites, it can be more effective to plant in smaller groups, making combinations that succeed each other (or move through the space) throughout the year. I tend to repeat these smaller combinations in two or three places in the garden, that way we create impact across the space. For this method to be most effective, it requires some considered pruning at different times of year, to allow for reasonably dense planting.

Matrix – In recent years a lot more interest has developed in ‘matrix planting,’ this is where individual plants are planted in an informal grid or ‘matrix’ (this doesn’t look like a grid). In this style the whole area is always alive over most of the flowering cycle, with different plants and grasses coming to fruition at different times, but the matrix hides the plants dying back. Contrary to how the name appears, ‘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.

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 you like bright colours or pastels? Do you want a refined palette of colours? Are there any colours you 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.)

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, 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 Foxgloves (Digitalis spp.) or Wolfsbane (Aconitum spp.)

Planting is a dynamic and detailed part of creating a garden, whatever approach we take, my aim is to create a garden with you, so it becomes a place that brings you peace, joy and contentment.

Please call me Doug to discuss more 0795 1781 577

We have really enjoyed watching the garden evolve with the seasons, it has been a particularly pleasure to watch the return of wildlife drawn to a lovely selection of plants. We strongly recommend Doug.
K Hanson

01 Planting Page Foliage And Topiary Oxfordshire
Topiary Cloud Prune Hedges
02 Planting Page Small Group Planting Standlake Oxfordshire
Small Group Planting
03 Planting Page Matrix Planting Marsh Baldon Oxfordshire
Matrix Planting
04 Planting Page Long Flowering Period Verbena Macdougalii
Verbena Macdougalii – Long Flowering
05 Planting Page Roses Centranthus Oxfordshire
A passageway through plants
06 Planting Page Wild Flower Meadow The Cotswolds
Wild Flower Meadow
01 Planting Page Foliage And Topiary Oxfordshire
Topiary Cloud Prune Hedges

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.

Small Group Planting – Many gardens are not big enough to make good use of swathe planting so then in those sites, it can be more effective to plant in smaller groups, making combinations that succeed each other (or move through the space) throughout the year. I tend to repeat these smaller combinations in two or three places in the garden, that way we create impact across the space. For this method to be most effective, it requires some considered pruning at different times of year, to allow for reasonably dense planting.

02 Planting Page Small Group Planting Standlake Oxfordshire
Small Group Planting

Matrix planting – In recent years a lot more interest has developed in ‘matrix planting,’ this is where individual plants are planted in an informal grid or ‘matrix’ (this doesn’t look like a grid). In this style the whole area is always alive over most of the flowering cycle, with different plants and grasses coming to fruition at different times, but the matrix hides the plants dying back. Contrary to how the name appears, ‘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.

03 Planting Page Matrix Planting Marsh Baldon Oxfordshire
Matrix Planting

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 you like bright colours or pastels? Do you want a refined palette of colours? Are there any colours you 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.)

04 Planting Page Long Flowering Period Verbena Macdougalii
Verbena Macdougalii – Long Flowering

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, 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 Foxgloves (Digitalis spp.) or Wolfsbane (Aconitum spp.)

Planting is a dynamic and detailed part of creating a garden, whatever approach we take, my aim is to create a garden with you, so it becomes a place that brings you peace, joy and contentment.

Please call me Doug to discuss more 0795 1781 577