Design Process – Part 4


Garden Planting Plan.

Tim and Ruth were clearly experienced and keen gardeners and so it was going to be really rewarding to create a planting plan for them. We met again to discuss their preferences and talked in great depth about their favourite plants and the mood they wanted for their garden. I knew Tim was keen on having a few blackcurrant bushes already but he also wanted to grow plants to encourage bees. He particularly liked plants which had several good features such as scent as well as attractive seed heads plus he wanted to see something special at all times of the year. I also needed to know how much time they wanted to spend in the garden and whether they might be employing a gardener. When all my questions had been answered I took a quick soil sample to test back at the studio.

Unsurprisingly for that part of Bath the soil was slightly alkali but it was also rather heavy. I have learned that soil is the backbone of the garden and without making it as healthy as possible the cost and effort of planting is wasted (not to mention the cost of installing a rainwater harvesting system). Every day I am grateful for my horticultural training from the WRAGS scheme; the knowledge I gained about plants and what they need has been invaluable.


Back at the studio I got all my planting books out and started the plan. Plants are beautiful things to work with and they are the reason I retrained to be a garden designer. Individual plants can be show stoppers of course but for me it is the combinations that are exciting. How colours react with each other, contrasting flower and leaf textures and using shape and form to create weight and density in a border fascinate me.

However there are many factors to take into account apart from look of a plant when designing a planting scheme. The starting point is to be sure the plants will grow well in the particular soil pH and to know how much sunlight they need to thrive. Then there are many ways that plants can be used. Apart from different effects made from how many plants you group together, plants can also be layered. For example following the seasonal flush of spring bulbs another plant with summer interest can perform in the same spot, giving joy for 2 seasons.


When everything has been worked out I arrange pictures of each plant in the order they are to be planted to see how the combinations work. This is an invaluable tool at the presentation of the planting plan. You don’t need to know the Latin name of the plant or to have grown it before to see whether you like the effect. As with the layout plan I go through all the details and make any changes needed before sending the plant list to the wholesale nursery to be priced.


Read part 1

Read part 2

Read part 3

Come back for part 5 on Wed 5th August!