When introducing architectural plants into your garden it’s best to establish a framework in your head before you start. Much like designing a room in your home, it’s easiest to mentally place the furniture first and arrange decoration around them. Architectural plants are the ‘furniture’ of your garden.
The first step towards your framework is choosing your plants – climate, size and level of maintenance all need to be taken into account. Due to the size of the plants you will be working with you have to allow space for extensive roots and space above ground so they can grow unhindered to their full potential. Architectural plants are about shaping your garden, with that in mind it’s worth considering having some in movable pots or planters, giving you the option of rearranging your design in future – particularly useful for town, roof and small garden design!
Ornamental grasses are a fantastic choice if you want to create borders to your garden. Use them to distinguish between the different areas in your space – there’s endless variety and you can find one to suit any style. Tall, fern-like options (Calamagrostis) can help you in creating a meadow look, whilst Miscanthus creates more of a waterside atmosphere.
If you’re trying to create shaded spaces of your garden, you can consider the aptly named Giant Elephant Ear. Named after its enormous ear-shaped leaves, these can grow up to 8ft tall and are perfect for protecting a reading or relaxing spot in your garden. Not native to the UK, give it a helping hand with extra water and fertilizer throughout the year – but you shouldn’t encounter too many problems.
To split your garden into sections, there’s no better choice than an upright reed. Most will spread if left unchecked, so try and create isolated plant beds for them so that they remain in the areas that you want them to. Horsetail reed is one of the more aesthetic options, which stands up to 4ft and looks a lot like bamboo – sturdy, straight and rigid. It’s ideal for mapping out paths and walkways throughout your garden.
Drainage and irrigation are vital in maintaining the health of your plants. When it comes to architectural planting it’s simply not enough to rely on a watering can and sporadic rainfall. The best solution is to plan ahead and install an automatic watering system before planting. Raising your plant beds or planting in pots can dramatically improve drainage, allowing water to run off easily rather than remaining in the surrounding soil.