Embracing Seedheads In The Winter Garden
Don’t prune it- embrace it!
What is the difference between a garden that has ‘gone over’ and a glorious winter garden full of interesting, sculptural seed heads and muted autumnal shades? The answer is nothing- just our own personal perception.
This question arose when Ginkgo Garden Design visited Scampston Hall Walled Gardens at the end of August this year. My parents had visited the previous week and, being rather ‘old school’ (I am sure they wouldn’t mind me saying that!) their opinion was that it looked a bit tired and I am sure if my Dad had had his shears with him he would have loved to have got stuck in and have a good ‘tidy up’. I, however, was bowled over by the fabulous Piet Oudolf design and planting. There was still bags of colour and it was only just starting to nod towards Autumn but why should we be fighting that when we can embrace it?
The architect Sir Frederick Gibberd was of the view that the real test of a garden was whether it was worth visiting in February. I look to my own garden and think I need to make some changes!
I returned to Scampston in October for two days of lectures by Noel Kingsbury who just happens to be a leading authority on Piet Oudolf and intimidatingly knowledgeable on planting and planting design. The gardens are closed to the public now but still had incredible beauty:
As a garden designer looking at planting design the concept of planning a scheme not just around flowering periods, structure, shape etc but looking at it much deeper (below ground level in fact) is something of a revelation. In this Telegraph article Noel discusses combining a light grass with dark perennial seed heads- it is contemporary, beautiful, wildlife friendly and very low maintenance gardening (would you believe there are just two full time professional gardeners at Scampston?).
I am aware it goes against everything we were brought up to think about domestic gardening but embracing seed heads and natural planting is most definitely the way forward!
For some useful hints on avoiding pitfalls check out this Crocus article. Also Noel Kingsburys latest book New Small Garden brings all the theory down to a more realistic scale.
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