How to walk on the wilder side

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Notebook -

Visit gar­dens spe­cial­is­ing in nat­u­ral­is­tic plant­ings

See­ing how in­di­vid­ual plants grow to­gether and be­have through­out the year will give you ideas for your own patch. Scamp­ston Hall (York­shire), Broughton Grange (Ox­ford­shire), Waltham Place (Berkshire), Knoll Gar­dens (Dorset), RHS Hyde Hall (Es­sex), The Gar­den House (Devon), Great Dix­ter (Sus­sex) and the Olympic Park (Lon­don) are all worth a visit.

Match the plant to the place

Know­ing the type of habi­tat that the plant orig­i­nates from, along with their size and growth habit, will help you un­der­stand the cor­rect grow­ing con­di­tions and com­pan­ions they pre­fer. For in­stance Cephalaria trans­syl­van­ica

and Ver­bena ‘Bamp­ton’ will hap­pily self-seed along sunny path edges and open grass, but will not tol­er­ate too much com­pe­ti­tion. Suc­cisella in­flexa ‘Frosted Pearl’ and Foenicu­lum vul­gare ‘Smokey’ are both peren­ni­als, stronger in growth and able to cope with a lit­tle crowd­ing.

Get off to a good start

Re­move any vig­or­ous peren­nial weeds, es­tab­lish yel­low rat­tle ( Rhi­nan­thus

mi­nor) into grass swards to re­duce vigour. Cre­ate plant­ing pock­ets at the base of walls and edges of drives and paths by en­rich­ing small ar­eas of soil, this is par­tic­u­larly of use for shade lov­ing wood­lan­ders such as Beesia calth­i­fo­lia, Dis­po­rum longisty­lum ‘Knight Heron’ and Hakonechloa macra. Plant in spring us­ing plugs or small plants and wa­ter reg­u­larly while es­tab­lish­ing, these will take hold and grow quickly, need­ing less af­ter­care than larger spec­i­mens.

Slowly build up the plant pal­ette for a par­tic­u­lar

site Start off with just a few species and add more each year. In­cor­po­rate bulbs, an­nu­als and bi­en­ni­als to ex­tend the sea­son and en­cour­age self-seed­ing by us­ing plants like Erigeron an­nuus, Eryn­gium gi­gan­teum

and Euphor­bia ob­lon­gata. Ex­per­i­ment, have fun and treat your fail­ures as lessons.

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