There is a lot more to garden design than flowers. There is scale. There is proportion. There is form and structure. There is texture. There is the all important relationship between mass and void. But materials matter. And a large percentage of the materials used by garden designers are plants. Sure, we need to know our tumbled basalt from our six sided sawn York, but if we don’t know our plants we are ignoring a very important compartment in our designer’s box of tricks.
But knowing plants is just the start. More important is how and when to use them. Let’s take just one family of plants – the umbel. (Or the Apiaceae family for those of you of a Linnaean bent.)
They come in many forms but they all share an infloresecence of tiny flowers to form one flower head. Many are extremely popular with insects as their flower heads often provide ready-made landing platforms for bees and butterflies. They work in planting schemes because we look directly down on their flower heads, providing an angle of interest different to other flowering plants.
Here are a few you may want to think about in one of your schemes, together with what they bring:
The gracefully decorative
An ornamental cow parsley, ideal for providing height to woodland edge planting schemes.
The delicately jewel like
Astrantias are a modern perennial to dot around planting schemes as a companion plant, providing unity to the overall palate.
The soft and smoky
Bronze fennel provides a hazy screen for other planting.
Angelica provides an architectural statement which works well when repeated across larger schemes.
Nigel is an award winning garden designer with studios in London and North Yorkshire. As founder of Medlar & Cob he uses modern, intelligent design to create timeless British gardens rooted in tradition. Take a look at his blog here here - medlarandcob.com/m. You can follow Nigel on twitter @medlarandcob. Read more posts by Nigel.