Garden Design Case Study: Planting in Focus

When Chris Parsons created this garden, she was careful to meet her clients' needs, and also to ensure that the design and plants were appropriate for the specific location, soil and climate.

Prairie-Style Planting

The aim of prairie-style planting is to create a naturalistic colony using a small palette of perennials and grasses, closely planted in generous, interwoven groups. It is a low-maintenance technique, as the plants are left to grow naturally, supporting each other and suppressing weeds, then simply cut back each winter or spring.

Achillea 'Terracotta'
The flowers of this lacy-leaved perennial fade from orange to creamy-yellow as they age in summer (Image 1).

Stipa calamagrostis
The arching leaves and feathery flower heads combine well with stout-stemmed perennials (Image 2).

Echinacea ‘Sunset’
Flowering from midsummer to early fall, the Echinacea adds a vivid focal point to this border (Image 3).

Hemerocallis ‘Corky’
The bright yellow, scented flowers of this evergreen daylily hold center stage in the border during midsummer (Image 4).

Anemanthele lessoniana
This evergreen grass develops rich, autumnal coloring, providing interest as the perennials finish flowering (Image 5).

Prime Planting

As one of the more prominent borders in the main seating area, it is important that the plants here give a good show over a long period. Chris achieved this by choosing reliable plants that each flower at slightly different times. To help ensure a constant display, feed and water regularly, and remove any spent flowers.

Large plants that bloom at different times in a garden seating area.

Lush Cottage Plantings

2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Garden Design View original photo.

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’
Combines rich purple foliage with slender white fall flowers (Image 1).

Alchemilla mollis (Lady's mantle)
A frothy-flowered ground-cover perennial with lobed leaves (Image 2).

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
A tall, upright grass, it produces pale feathery flower spikes in midsummer (Image 3).


Borders directly beneath trees tend to be dry and shady, which limits the range of plants that will grow there. One solution to this problem is to prune the trees regularly to reduce the shade they cast. You can also improve the soil by incorporating organic matter into it, and apply a mulch each spring to help keep the soil moist in summer.

Brick Raised Bed With Shrubs and Foliage Plants

Brick Raised Bed With Shrubs and Foliage Plants

2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Garden Design View original photo.

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Viola labradorica
Ideal as a self-seeder, it has pale purple summer blooms and bronze new leaves (Image 1).

Fargesia nitida
A slow-growing, medium-sized bamboo that forms an attractive, upright clump (Image 2).

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