Garden trends - naturalistic garden design

There’s an increasing movement in garden design towards gardens that take their cue from nature.  If you’re ready to embrace your wild side, here are a few pointers.

Don’t over garden, spend time enjoying some imperfection.  This doesn’t mean letting everything go wild indiscriminately, but trying not to be too neat and tidy.  Prune shrubs so that their natural shape shows, rather than clipping them tightly as you would for topiary.

Enjoy serendipity.  Go with the flow.  Let unplanned self-seeders like foxgloves or hollyhocks pop up randomly.  As long as you have a good framework, self-seeded plants can add unexpected combinations, and you know that they will thrive.  Try to take the lead from nature rather than completely controlling it.

Get inspiration from nature.  Observe how plants grow in the wild, their planting style and colour palette.  Mimic woodland floor planting, for example, with repeated ferns, bluebells and ground cover en masse.  Create your own wildflower meadow at the back of the garden by letting the grass grow and encouraging native flowers.  Or create a gravel garden with thyme and oregano growing informally, as it does in the wild.

Use billowing grasses and large drifts of perennials.  Ornamental grasses have a loose habit and add a soft texture to naturalistic planting schemes.  They work well with informal perennials that fall loosely over paths and move in the wind.

Use natural materials and minimise hard landscaping.  Adopt a light touch to landscaping with stepping stones through planting or mown paths through meadows.  Allow planting pockets in patios or use gravel where plants can be dotted through as well as organic curves and understated local materials that blend into the garden