Creating a good planting scheme can be tricky. To help you create a great planting scheme, we’re going to dissect what made the planting scheme so good at the inspirational garden of Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba, Spain.
How to Use Plants Effectively (the Power of One)
The Alcazar garden managed to create a scheme that was brave and bold by using very few plant varieties. Not only did it look amazing but it wasn’t boring, nor did it look like a municipal park.
They had large areas containing just one key plant. Sure, there was a box hedge around it and the occasional use of a different plant, but on the whole there was one key or ‘Power Plant’.
How Do You Pick Your ‘Power Plant’?
Choosing a power plant is no easy task. Before I list a few of my favourites, let’s define what a ‘power plant’ is. It’s a plant that gives you most bang for your buck. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an evergreen but it does need to look good for a large proportion of the year regardless of whether it’s flowering.
The key to it is to pick plants like they have in the Alcazar Garden in Spain that are slightly unusual, not in the sense that they’re hard to come by, but in the sense that you wouldn’t expect to see that particular plant en masse (like using Celosia instead of Roses as shown in the picture).
Plant Quantity And Repetition Are Also Key
You need to have an area big enough to put in a substantial enough group of the power plant and then still have room for some minor planting. That doesn’t mean to say you can’t do this in a small garden but you basically need an area big enough that you can put more than five of your power plant.
You also need to repeat it in other locations around your garden to create the best effect. If you think about it, mother nature plants in this way and let’s face it, she is the ultimate designer.
My Top 5 Power Plants
This is my current list, which does change quite frequently.
Stipa tenuissima – It’s a grass that moves like hair in the wind and you just want to stroke it, and it’s great to show off other plants around it. And I think it looks fantastic planted in big bold groups.
Agapanthus – Blue, purple or white flowering varieties are available. The flowers last a fair while and semi-evergreen, strap shaped leaves, make this a good plant to have in my book.
Perovskia Blue Spire – The Russian sage has white stems with greyish/blue foliage which are scented and stunning purple/blue flowers. I use this plant more at the middle to back of borders as it can get ‘leggy’ and need other plants for support. Planted in big enough groups, you get clouds of blue in late summer.
Sedum Purple Emperor – The deep purple foliage and pink flowers is a good combination. It’s a good plant to show off other plants around it – the flat topped flowers make a good change of shape (more on this in the next blog post) in the border.
French Lavender – I love to see lavender planted in clumps and repeated around the garden, especially when used with grasses and more upright plant forms. When choosing French Lavender, it’s best not to go for the Lavendula stoechas but a named variety of it (there are loads to choose from), the original variety is a bit messy can get leggy more easily than some of the newer varieties.
Before incorporating any of the above in your garden, do check they will be OK with your soil type, location and general climate.
Watch Rachel Demonstrate How to Create A Stunning Planting Scheme…
If you’d like ALL the insider tips on exactly how to put plants together to create stunning schemes that look good all year, including a plant database you can sort by plant colour, growing conditions, height, hardiness etc. then take a look at the Plant Design Formula.