July 4


Ideas and Suggestions for Incorporating Naturalistic Planting Designs with the Perfect Plants

Naturalistic planting design – plants to use and design ideas

When it comes to creating a naturalistic planting scheme in the garden, choosing the right plants is crucial. Some of the best choices for naturalistic plantings include hellebores, which flower in late winter and early spring, and calamagrostis, which adds structure and interest throughout the summer. Other suggested plants include stipa and jonathan woolfenden.

Designing the planting scheme is also important. Naturalistic plantings often prioritize the needs of bees and birds, so it’s important to include plants that will attract and support them. Additionally, considering the soil type, aspect, and climatic conditions will help ensure that the plants thrive.

Avoiding a strong direct design, some designers suggest using drifts of plants instead of borders or structured planting areas. This creates a more natural and flowing look. Another interesting idea is to increase the flowering palette by including plants with different flowering times, so the garden looks beautiful throughout the year.

Naturally, the ease of maintenance and performance of the plants should also be taken into consideration. Choosing plants that are easy to care for and perform well in the garden will make the naturalistic planting scheme more accessible for those with busy lifestyles.

In conclusion, naturalistic planting design offers a great way to create a beautiful and contemporary garden. By carefully selecting the right plants and considering their needs, as well as incorporating interesting design ideas, such as drifts of plants and a varied flowering palette, you can create a stunning and low-maintenance naturalistic planting scheme that will attract wildlife and bring joy to your garden all year round.

Naturalistic planting design – the benefits

There are many benefits to incorporating naturalistic planting design into your garden. In this article, we will explore some of the direct advantages that this style of gardening can offer.

1. High visual impact

Naturalistic planting design is known for its visual impact. By using a wide variety of plants, including both native and non-native species, you can create a garden that is teeming with life and color. Planting in drifts and mixing tall grasses with flowering perennials creates movement and interest, adding depth and complexity to the landscape.

2. Climate friendly

Naturalistic planting design is well-suited to the unpredictable and ever-changing climatic conditions we experience today. By selecting plants that are adapted to your local climate, you can create a garden that is more resilient and requires less maintenance. These plants are often drought-tolerant and can withstand extreme weather events, making them an excellent choice for those looking to create a sustainable and low-maintenance garden.

3. Habitat creation

By using a diverse range of plants, you can create a habitat that attracts and supports a wide variety of wildlife. Native plants, in particular, are important for supporting local ecosystems and providing food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. By incorporating native species into your planting scheme, you can help to restore and protect these important habitats.

4. Low maintenance

Naturalistic planting design is often associated with low maintenance. By using a combination of self-seeding plants and perennials, you can create a garden that naturally fills in and requires minimal intervention. Once established, many naturalistic plantings require little to no watering, pruning, or fertilizing. This makes them a great choice for those with busy lifestyles or who simply want to spend less time tending to their garden.

5. Beautiful all year round

Naturalistic planting design offers beauty throughout the year. From the early spring blooms of hellebores to the late summer flowering grasses, there is always something to enjoy in a naturalistic garden. By carefully selecting plants with different flowering times, you can ensure that your garden is constantly changing and evolving, providing interest in every season.

In conclusion, naturalistic planting design has many benefits, including high visual impact, climate friendliness, habitat creation, low maintenance, and year-round beauty. By following the advice of experienced designers, you can create a garden that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also environmentally friendly and easy to maintain. So why wait? Start exploring the naturalistic planting trend and reap the rewards it has to offer.

What is naturalistic planting

Naturalistic planting is a style of gardening that aims to recreate the look and feel of a natural environment. Instead of meticulously manicured flower beds and neatly trimmed hedges, naturalistic gardens embrace a more relaxed and informal approach. They seek to create a space that feels wild and unrefined, blending seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.

This style of planting has gained popularity in recent years, as more people have become interested in creating gardens that are not only visually appealing, but also provide habitats for wildlife and promote biodiversity. By using native and locally adapted plants, naturalistic gardens help to support local ecosystems and attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Designing a naturalistic garden

When designing a naturalistic garden, it’s important to consider the plants you choose and how they will work together to create a cohesive and visually pleasing space. Many naturalistic garden designers recommend using a mix of plants that flower at different times throughout the year, ensuring that there is always something interesting to see.

Matthew Wilson, one of the UK’s best-known naturalistic planting designers, suggests using structural plants, such as grasses and perennials, to create a framework for the garden. These plants provide year-round interest and act as a backdrop for the more showy flowers. He also advises using a mix of heights and textures to add depth and variety to the planting.

A naturalistic garden should look effortless and untamed, but this doesn’t mean it requires no maintenance. It’s important to regularly declutter and remove any plants that are not performing well, to keep the garden looking its best. However, naturalistic planting does generally require less maintenance than more traditional gardening styles, allowing you to spend more time enjoying your outdoor space.

Examples of naturalistic plants

There are many plant options to choose from when creating a naturalistic garden. Some popular choices include:

  • Calamagrostis: A type of grass that forms large, green mounds and produces tall flower spikes in the summer.
  • Stipa gigantea: A tall grass with golden-brown flower spikes that create a striking feature in the garden.
  • Scabiosa columbaria: A low-growing perennial plant with delicate purple flowers that attract bees and butterflies.
  • Verbena bonariensis: A tall, slender plant with clusters of purple flowers that sway gracefully in the wind.
  • Achillea: A perennial plant with feathery leaves and flat clusters of flowers in shades of pink, red, and yellow.

These plants, and many others like them, can be used to create meadows, add movement to the garden, and provide habitats for wildlife.

Tips for incorporating naturalistic planting into your garden

If you’re interested in incorporating naturalistic planting into your garden, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Choose plants that are adapted to your climatic conditions and soil type, as they will be more likely to thrive.
  2. Consider the natural movement of plants and their ability to self-seed, as this will help create a more natural-looking garden.
  3. Look for inspiration from contemporary garden designers who specialize in naturalistic planting, such as Piet Oudolf and James Hitchmough.
  4. Start small by creating a naturalistic area within your existing garden, such as a meadow or a section of wildflowers.
  5. Don’t be afraid to experiment and let the plants do their thing – naturalistic planting is about embracing imperfections and allowing the garden to evolve over time.

By incorporating naturalistic planting into your garden, you can create a beautiful and environmentally friendly space that brings you closer to nature.

What plants should you include in naturalistic planting

When it comes to naturalistic planting, the choice of plants is crucial. You want to create a beautiful and ecologically friendly garden that is in harmony with nature. Here are some suggestions for plants that you can include in your naturalistic planting:

1. Native plants

Using native plants in your garden is always a good idea. They are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making them more likely to thrive in your garden. Native plants also provide food and habitat for local wildlife, including bees and butterflies.

2. Grasses

Grasses work great in naturalistic planting. They create a soft, flowing effect and add movement to the garden. Ornamental grasses like Miscanthus and Panicum are popular choices for their tall, swaying spikes. They also provide winter interest in the garden, with their dried seed heads and golden colors.

3. Wildflowers

Wildflowers are a key element of naturalistic planting. They come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, and often have long flowering periods. Some popular choices are Achillea, Echinacea, and Hellebores. Plant them in large drifts to create a wildflower meadow effect.

4. Shrubs and trees

Shrubs and trees are important for providing structure and height in the garden. They can also be used to create microclimates and habitats for wildlife. Native shrubs like Viburnum and Dogwood are great choices for naturalistic planting.

5. Evergreen plants

Evergreen plants are important for providing year-round interest in the garden. They keep the garden looking green and vibrant even in winter. Some suggested evergreen plants for naturalistic planting are Boxwood, Yew, and Holly.

6. Self-seeding plants

Using self-seeding plants is a great way to create a more naturalistic look in your garden. These plants will scatter their seeds around and come back year after year. Some popular self-seeding plants are Aquilegia, Poppy, and Verbena bonariensis.

By including these plants in your naturalistic planting, you can create a beautiful and eco-friendly garden that is in harmony with nature.

How do you make a natural garden

Creating a natural garden involves designing and planting in a way that mimics the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Here are some tips and ideas to help you make a natural garden.

1. Choose native plants

1. Choose native plants

Native plants are adapted to the local climate and provide food and habitat for native wildlife, such as bees and birds. Research your climatic zone and select plants that will thrive in your area.

2. Create diversity

A natural garden should have a variety of plants with different heights, textures, and colors. Mix grasses, flowers, and shrubs to create a visually interesting and dynamic landscape.

3. Use a mix of perennials and annuals

Perennials like hellebores and flowering bulbs provide structure and stability to your garden, while annuals add pops of color and can be changed every year to keep things fresh.

4. Incorporate drifts and pockets

Planting in drifts or pockets mimics the way plants grow in nature and creates a more naturalistic look. Use groups of the same plant to create visual impact and attract pollinators.

5. Include grasses for movement

Add grasses with strong architectural shapes, such as Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ or Stipa gigantea, to create movement in your garden. The way they sway in the wind adds an extra dimension to the overall design.

6. Provide food and shelter

6. Provide food and shelter

Offer food sources for birds and insects by including plants that produce berries or nectar-rich flowers. Create habitat by adding birdhouses, bee hotels, or leaving piles of leaves and fallen branches for shelter.

7. Create a sense of age

Add aged elements, such as weathered stone or reclaimed wood, to give your garden a sense of history and permanence. This can be achieved through incorporating salvaged materials or using plants with interesting textures and shapes.

8. Embrace the wild side

Letting your garden have a little bit of chaos can add to its naturalistic appeal. Allow some plants to self-seed and grow where they choose, creating a more informal and relaxed atmosphere.

9. Maintain a balance

9. Maintain a balance

While a natural garden may seem low-maintenance, it still requires regular care. Keep an eye on weeds and invasive plants, and make sure your plants have enough water and nutrients to thrive.

10. Get inspired

Look for inspiration in natural landscapes, books, and online resources. There are many gardening trends and styles to explore that can help you develop your unique natural garden.

By following these tips and ideas, you can create a natural garden that not only looks beautiful but also provides a habitat for wildlife and promotes biodiversity. Happy gardening!

Can naturalistic planting offer interest year round?

When it comes to naturalistic planting, you’re not just creating a beautiful garden, but also providing a habitat for wildlife and bees. The use of native plants and a diverse plant palette is important to make sure that there is always something in bloom throughout the year.

A self-sustaining naturalistic planting scheme is designed to offer interest year round without much effort from the gardener. By using a mix of plants that provide food sources and shelter, such as meadows and wildflowers, you can create a garden that supports wildlife and creates a naturalistic look.

Choosing the right plants

When selecting plants for a naturalistic planting scheme, it’s important to choose varieties that are well-suited to your climate and soil conditions. Native plants are always a good choice, as they are adapted to the local conditions and require less maintenance. Some popular choices for naturalistic plantings include hellebores, Jonathan Woolfenden, and stipa.

It’s important to consider the aspect of your garden when choosing plants. Some plants perform best in full sun, while others prefer shaded areas. By selecting plants that are well-suited to your garden’s aspect, you can ensure that they thrive and provide interest year round.

Creating movement and interest

One of the key features of naturalistic planting is movement. Plants with strong architectural forms, such as grasses and perennials with tall spikes, can create a sense of movement in the garden. Calamagrostis and stipa are popular choices for creating movement in naturalistic borders.

In addition to movement, naturalistic planting can also be enhanced by adding plants with interesting foliage or flowers. For example, hellebores provide beautiful flowers in winter and early spring, while grasses add texture and interest throughout the year.

Keeping interest through the seasons

Keeping interest through the seasons

To ensure year-round interest in your naturalistic planting scheme, it’s important to choose plants that have different bloom times and foliage colors. This way, there will always be something to enjoy in the garden, no matter the season.

By selecting a diverse range of plants and incorporating seed heads, some of the flowers and grasses will continue to provide interest even after they have finished blooming. This adds an extra layer of beauty to the garden, while also providing a food source for birds and wildlife.

Overall, naturalistic planting can offer interest year round by using a diverse plant palette, considering different aspects of the garden, and selecting plants that have a variety of bloom times and foliage colors. By creating a garden that supports wildlife and incorporates movement and interesting plant choices, you can enjoy a beautiful and dynamic garden throughout the year.

Does naturalistic planting work in a contemporary garden

Naturalistic planting design has gained popularity in recent years, as it provides a more relaxed and harmonious approach to gardening. But does it work in a contemporary garden? The answer is yes!

Contemporary gardens often have a clean and minimalist design, with sleek lines and modern materials. Naturalistic planting can complement this style by adding a more organic and wild aspect. It creates a beautiful contrast that softens the overall look of the garden and brings life into the space.

One of the main benefits of naturalistic planting in a contemporary garden is the way it blends with the surrounding environment. These plantings are often designed to be low maintenance and require minimal intervention. They are self-sustainable and provide habitats for birds, bees, and other wildlife. By choosing climate-appropriate plants, you can create a garden that thrives without excessive watering or chemical treatments.

Jonathan Wilson, a renowned landscape designer, says that naturalistic planting creates an interesting aspect for contemporary gardens. “You can have drifts of flowering grasses and aged spikes of hellebores that appear without making any choices. The garden is designed to look natural.”

In a naturalistic garden, you can choose a mix of grasses, perennials, and self-seeding plants. Some popular choices include stipa grass, wildflowers, and hellebores. These plants add texture, movement, and color throughout the year, ensuring that your garden looks interesting even in the winter months.

A great way to incorporate naturalistic planting in a contemporary garden is by creating a “wildflower meadow” effect. This can be done by planting a mix of native wildflowers that bloom from spring to summer. The mix should include plants with different heights, colors, and flowering periods to provide a diverse and visually appealing display.

Jennie Stevens, a gardening expert, suggests making use of a large drift of grasses or a flowering hedge as a focal point in a contemporary garden. This creates a sense of movement and adds interest to the space. She also advises decluttering the garden by removing unnecessary features and using plants as the main design element.

It’s important to note that naturalistic planting can work in both large and small contemporary gardens. Even if you have limited space, you can still create a naturalistic look by incorporating plantings in pots or by creating raised flower beds. The key is to choose plants that are suited to your garden’s conditions and to maintain them properly by regularly weeding and pruning.

In conclusion, naturalistic planting can add a touch of wild beauty to contemporary gardens. It creates a more relaxed and organic style that complements the clean lines and modern materials often found in contemporary garden design. By choosing climate-appropriate plants and creating habitats for wildlife, you can create a garden that is both beautiful and sustainable.

Is naturalistic planting high maintenance

Naturalistic planting may give off an impression of being high maintenance if not designed and managed properly. However, with the right approach and selection of plants, it can actually be a low-maintenance option for your garden.

Choosing the right plants

One of the key factors in reducing the maintenance requirements of naturalistic planting is selecting the right plants for your climate and soil conditions. Native plants are often a great choice as they have evolved to thrive in their specific habitat. According to Jonathan Woolfenden, an English garden designer, selecting plants that are naturally suited to your area will help them perform well without much intervention.

By choosing a diverse range of plants that flower at different times throughout the year, you can create a naturalistic planting design that constantly changes and offers interest. “Late-summer flowering perennials create movement and add interest to the garden,” says Jennie Adams, another garden designer. “They also provide a valuable food source for bees and other pollinators.”

Design considerations for low maintenance

In order to minimize the workload, it is important to consider the design of your naturalistic planting. By creating distinct habitats or zones within your garden, you can minimize the need for constant maintenance. Avoid planting strong growing species next to slower growing species to prevent competition and maintain a more balanced appearance.

Jennifer Gay, a naturalistic planting designer, suggests creating pockets of more formal planting or introducing hedges to provide structure and reduce maintenance. This can help to reduce the perception of a cluttered or unkempt space, while still maintaining a naturalistic feel.

Managing naturalistic planting

Once the initial planting is done, naturalistic planting design requires some maintenance in the first few years to establish the desired appearance. Regular weeding, mulching, and watering may be required until the plants have matured. After this initial period, the need for maintenance will reduce significantly.

It’s important to keep in mind that naturalistic planting is not about perfection, but rather about emulating the beauty and diversity of nature. Allow plants to self-seed and don’t be afraid of a slightly wilder look. This approach can help to create a habitat for a range of wildlife and reduce the need for constant intervention.

In summary, while naturalistic planting may require some initial work to establish the design, it can ultimately be a low-maintenance option for your garden. By selecting the right plants, considering the design, and managing appropriately, you can create a beautiful and dynamic naturalistic garden that will require minimal upkeep in the long run.

How does naturalistic planting help wildlife

Naturalistic planting design, also known as wildflower or meadow planting, can greatly benefit wildlife due to its ability to mimic natural habitats and attract a wide variety of species. This type of planting style is becoming increasingly popular among gardeners and landscapers who want to create sustainable and wildlife-friendly gardens.

1. Providing Habitat

Naturalistic planting designs, with their diverse mix of plants and grasses, can provide essential habitats for wildlife. Many plants in these designs offer food, shelter, and nesting sites for a range of creatures, including birds, bees, butterflies, and insects. The variety of vegetation levels – from tall grasses to low-growing flowers – ensures there are homes for different species.

2. Creating Movement and Drifts

Unlike traditional formal gardens, naturalistic plantings are designed to mimic the way plants grow in the wild, creating a sense of movement and natural flow. The use of drifts – large groups of the same species or complementary plants – creates a seamless visual effect that draws wildlife towards the garden.

3. Providing for Year-Round Interest

Naturalistic planting designs can provide interest throughout the year, with plants and flowers that bloom from early spring to late fall. This ensures a constant food source for many insects, butterflies, and bees, especially at times when other plants may not be flowering.

4. Bee-Friendly Choices

Naturalistic planting designs often include flowering plants that are particularly attractive to bees. Hellebores, for example, have large spikes of flowers in late winter and early spring, providing essential nutrients for bees emerging from winter hibernation. Calamagrostis is another popular choice, with its feathery plumes that sway in the wind, appealing to bees and adding movement to the garden.

5. Easy to Maintain

Wildflower meadows and naturalistic planting designs are often relatively low-maintenance compared to traditional manicured lawns and formal gardens. Once established, they require less watering, feeding, and mowing. This allows nature to take its course and reduces the need for chemical pesticides or fertilizers, making them more environmentally friendly.

6. Increasing Biodiversity

Naturalistic planting designs help to increase biodiversity by attracting a wide range of species. By providing a variety of habitats and food sources, these gardens can support a diverse ecosystem. This is particularly important as many natural habitats continue to decline due to urbanization and human activity.

In summary, naturalistic planting designs offer a great opportunity to create beautiful and wildlife-friendly gardens. By providing essential habitat, attracting a range of species, and increasing biodiversity, these designs contribute to the preservation of our natural environment.

The best plants to use in a naturalistic planting design

When it comes to designing a naturalistic planting scheme, it is important to choose plants that fit into the desired style and create a harmonious and ecologically-friendly garden. Here are some of the best plants to consider:

Native Plants

Native Plants

  • Native plants should be the foundation of any naturalistic planting design. They have adapted to the local soils and climate over many years, making them well-suited to the environment.
  • Choosing native plants helps support local wildlife by providing food and habitat.
  • Native plants are typically low maintenance and can withstand the local conditions without requiring excessive watering or fertilizing.

Drought-Tolerant Plants

  • Drought-tolerant plants are a great choice for naturalistic planting designs, especially in areas with limited water resources or during dry summer months.
  • These plants can thrive without much water, helping to reduce water usage and create a more sustainable garden.
  • Some popular drought-tolerant plants include Lavender, Sedum, and Yarrow.


  • Grasses are an essential element in a naturalistic planting scheme. They add movement and create a sense of wildness.
  • Choose grasses that are native to your region, as they will naturally blend in with the local landscape.
  • Grasses like Stipa create interesting textures and can be used to create a focal point or to soften the edges of a garden.

Structural Plants

  • Structural plants provide visual interest and add depth to a naturalistic planting design.
  • Plants with strong architectural forms, such as Agaves or Echinops, can be used to create focal points or create a sense of order within a wild garden.
  • These plants often have unique shapes, spikes, or flower heads that add visual interest and contrast to the surrounding plantings.

Large Perennials

  • Incorporate large perennial plants into your naturalistic planting design to create a sense of scale and drama.
  • These plants, like Phlox or Echinacea, can be used to create drifts of color and texture throughout the garden.
  • Choose plants with a long flowering period to ensure color and interest throughout the summer months.

By using a combination of these plant types, you can create a naturalistic planting design that is not only beautiful but also provides important habitats for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Before starting your project, it’s always a good idea to consult with a local gardening center or seek advice from a professional designer to ensure you choose the best plants for your specific area and aspect.


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