Design Inspiration

Design InspirationGardening

Once there were no flowering plants: no roses, poppies, daisies or geraniums – just lush, green and unfamiliar jungle. Well, you’ve seen it in the movies. Now you can create your own patch of ancient jungle, thanks to a range of plants that would have provided lunch for dinosaurs in their time.

Creating your own lush Jurassic Park is fairly straightforward. The idea combines the rich greens of ferns, cycads, tree ferns and pines with a splash of water and informal close planting. And what the combination may lack in colour is more than made up for in lush greenery, architectural structure and an attractive, if unfamiliar, air of mystery.

Green Dreams

Perhaps the most important component of any Jurassic Park is ferns – their strong architectural forms and primeval air are just the thing to provide dense planting. For the edges of borders, try the arching fronds of the Lady Fern and the smaller delicately coloured Japanese Painted Fern. To provide height, think about tree ferns such as Dicksonia Antarctica – they will provide shade for the smaller ferns beneath, as well as the wonderful contrast between their leaves and the browns of their trunks.

Go Exotic

Another way to emphasise the unfamiliar is to add a variety of exotic plants such as the Japanese cycad – a cross between a tree fern and a palm tree – or a variety of true palms. Some of the best examples include the Canary Island Date Palm and the Chusan palm. These can also provide height to your borders and could be planted carefully to provide focal points or clusters of architectural structure.

Wet and Wild

No dinosaur would be happy without the trickle of a jungle stream or two. You can create your own simple rills bubbling through foliage using small ponds at different heights, linked by shallow channels filled with small and large pebbles. One or two pumps can be used to circulate the water from the lowest pond to the highest. You could even have a bit of fun using concealed motion sensors attached to fountains that are placed to squirt visitors as they explore. But if you have a bit more space, how about an oasis in the jungle with water running beneath a seat or even pouring through a glass-topped table!

Design InspirationGardening

Modern meadows are a key look this year – gorgeous grasses informally planted together, mixed in with tubs of tulips or dotted with single white foxgloves, and always providing unbeatable colours, movement and texture. There’s no doubt that at the moment, grass is officially gorgeous.

The main idea of modern meadowland is to combine natural planting style with a contemporary, formal layout, creating a traditional meadowland re-interpreted for the modern world. Getting the look can take some thought, and patience, but it’s worth the effort. The secret is to make the maximum use of the colour, texture and height of grasses to give a feast for the eye.

The use of grasses in particular is especially useful since these plants provide gorgeous subtle shades of colour for most of the year, and this is capped by elegant seed heads later in the summer. Once established they take little care, and of course insects and birds love them.

Stalks and Seed Heads

However you plan to plant, one of the most important ideas is to use the variety of heights that different grasses give you to add depth to your planting. For example, use shorter varieties at the front of borders where you can see them. Don’t plant singly but in large clumps – or in straight lines to mark paths or divisions in the garden. Taller varieties can go almost anywhere – even near the front if they aren’t planted densely – giving movement and adding strong architectural features.

For smaller clumps with beautiful delicate flower heads, try Briza media or Briza Maxima. For stronger architectural spikes with fabulous golden seed heads, try Stipa gigantea Gold Fontaene.

Subtle Shades

Grasses aren’t just green. How about browns (Carex milk chocolate), rich greys and blues (Elijah Blue Fescue) or the exotic Blood Grass ‘Imperata cylindrica Rubra’ with mid-green leaves that turn blood-red from the tips downwards and have fluffy silvery-white flower spikes in summer. In particular, this spectacular grass provides a wonderful contrast to other golden, blue or even black foliaged grasses.

Perfect Textures

Grasses make it easy to create almost any kind of texture in your garden. For instance, choose from the delicate softness of Pheasant Grass (Stipa tenuifolia), the explosive, spiky mounds created by Miscanthus Yakushima Dwarf, or the upright steely stems of Juncus Carmans.