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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).

  • Yarrow Fades from Orange to Yellow as Summer EndsSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Needle Grass has Arching Leaves and Feathery BloomSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Coneflower Adds Vivid Focal Point to BorderSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Corky Daylily Holds Center Stage in BorderSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Evergreen Wind Grass Provides Fall Color in GardenSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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.

Showy Plants Used in Main Seating Area of GardenSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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).

  • Brunette Bugbane Provides Rich Purple FoliageSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Ladys Mantle is Showy Flowering Ground CoverSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Karl Foerster is Tall Upright Ornamental grassSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Woodland

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.

Prune Trees Regularly to Reduce Shade They CastSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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).

  • Alpine Violets Ideal as Self Seeding Ground CoverSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Blue Fountain Bamboo Forms Showy Upright ClumpSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
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