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Natural Planting

Easy performers for the natural garden

However, it’s sometimes difficult to define exactly what natural actually means. It’s easy to buy armfuls of plants from the garden centre and set them out, complete with a well manicured lawn and a new paved patio. But is that natural?

Garden designers have been exploring this idea for years, trying to capture a sense of atmosphere and mood in a garden using plants which ‘feel’ right in terms of their shapes, forms and the way they occupy the space.

It’s a very subtle art and one well worth experimenting with, even if you’re new to gardening.

Natural planting can be simply put as plants which don’t have to be cajoled into performing and aren’t demanding. All too often we buy plants because they look good, only to find they need spraying, staking or copious amounts of pruning.

This is really the exact opposite of natural planting. Natural plants should be at home quickly and without fuss whilst they’re showing off what they can do. Sure, at the end of the year there’s tidying up to do, but for the rest of the year let them do what comes naturally.

The range of plants for a natural garden is very extensive, so try a few easy performers to get going. Echinops bannaticus ‘Taplow Blue’, the globe thistle, is fantastic for wildlife and will grow almost anywhere, whilst Centranthus ruber, with its red plumes of flowers will grow in the most difficult of sunny spaces where other plants would struggle.

Tall spires can make striking statements, like the foxglove, Digitalis ferruginea with gorgeous soft tints of red-brown in its flowers. Not outrageous, but loaded with elegance. Smaller but no less sweeter is Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’, which flowers prolifically from late summer. And of course grasses are an absolute must for the natural look, so try Calamagrostis brachytricha, simply stunning.

Natural gardens take on their own feel as they mature and nature secretly does the work for you by providing those plants which are at home from day one. Try it yourself, you might be surprised at the difference.