Wildflower planting was THE trend at Chelsea in 2012. Lovely bright points of flower head colour bobbing against a background of lush grass and leaves.
You might try buying wildflower turf by the metre, as at the Lindum ‘Out of the Blue Garden’ (left), or go for a classy look using only white ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘White Robin’, with a selection of arcing sedges, as Sarah Price did in the Telegraph garden (link to blog).
The former is a relatively expensive ‘off the peg’ way to do it and fairly instantaneous, though it does involve good preparation. It gives a cheerful, full, multi-coloured and homely look with native varieties.
The latter uses a bred variety and contributes to the particular sense of place the designer creates with stone, geometry, water and other plants.
Plant ecologist Nigel Dunnett used his garden to showcase groupings of plants for particular soil and light conditions. He’s not afraid to mix plants from different parts of the world. Some wildflower purists insist on native species.
This section of his garden shows a cow parsley cultivar with purple black foliage, Anthriscus ‘Raven’s Wing’ underpinning a multi-stemmed copper-barked cherry.
Wildflowers fade quickly and meadows look glorious for short periods only. So this kind of combination, with permanent tree or shrub structure, is great for year-round interest.
You can plan for a succession of herbaceous flowers and grasses, with new plants pushing through in spring, summer and autumn. This takes a lot of skill and an understanding of plant ecology.
The crofter’s hut in Vicky Harris’s ‘Naturally Dry’ garden set the charming scene for a natural planting of drought tolerant weed type plants (see the yellow point of a mouse ear dandelion in the fore-ground).
Visitors to Chelsea marvelled at the craft in creating such artful nature at many stands. I particularly enjoyed the playful ‘authenticity’ of rabbit droppings and snagged sheep’s wool round the side of the Bronte garden, with weedy birch seedling, sheep’s fescue grass and blackthorn. This was also my People’s Choice selection for RHS small garden for its creation of genius loci – a sense of place.
It’s not sure how many domestic gardens of public schemes will embrace full wildflower planting, but it’s interesting that the trend so dominated this year. Maybe the zeitgeist is for the very simple (looking), humble, thrifty (looking) and rural.
Giving over a section of your garden, maybe the area furthest from the house, to a ‘wild’ area is a lovely option. A place to dream, be simple and get away. We have the planting expertise and experience to design and create this for you.
You’ll probably increase wild animal visitors too, and get some truly authentic droppings and all.