It’s Only Natural…

July 27, 2012

clematis.jpgOne criterion that judges look for when judging gardens at shows such as Chelsea and Hampton Court is that the correct plants are grouped in the right places. For example, shade loving plants and sun loving plants need to be planted in the appropriate aspects of a garden.

A good planting scheme should reflect true nature, with regards to the right plants being in the place most suited to them in order to keep them looking good and healthy.

We’ve all bought plants simply because we’ve liked the look of them and then just popped them in an available spot in the border of the garden, not really thinking if the site is totally suitable… and then wondered why the plant was struggling or had died.

One consideration when planning your garden is to be aware of where the morning sun starts, where it moves during the day and where it ends up as the evening sun. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, a south-facing garden will get the most sun during the day. Most of us will have a corner of the garden that will get virtually no sun at all, so that will be the shady north facing side. Knowing this will help in choosing the right location for your plants.

So, how can we know which places our plants will like? Well, most plants available from garden centres are usually well labelled and give this information. Another clue to finding what growing condition suits a particular plant, is to find out which country that particular plant came from. For example, plants from Mediterranean countries will prefer a hot full sun aspect with free draining soil. Most of the ornamental plants we now have here in this country have at some stage been brought into England throughout history by plant hunters as England has relatively few native plants.

We can’t do much about the aspect of our gardens, however there’s a lot we can do about the condition of our soil. It’s all well and good planting a sun loving plant in a sunny aspect, however if it needs free draining soil and it’s planted in clay, then it will struggle, or even worse, die. One remedy for clay soil is to dig in some organic matter which will help improve its drainage. Another simple option is obviously to select a plant that actually prefers clay soil.

So next time before you nip out to buy a plant for a vacant spot in your garden, check to see whether that particular spot is in full sun, full shade or even in partial or dappled shade. Then check the soil too.

Garden designing and horticulture is such a fascinating vast topic that any gardener will never stop learning. The more you learn about and study your plants, the more you’ll find how nature can help you get the best out of your garden and how helpful nature can be.


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