If it comes to choosing a style for a backyard project, many people turn into cultural references: Japanese restraint, rigorously laid-out French parterres, abundantly flowering English boundaries and so forth. But what should we look not in cultures but in nature itself for stylistic inspiration?
Grasslands, obviously, are natural regions strongly dominated by grasses. In such expanses of fine foliage, other herbaceous crops, or forbs, and some rare shrubs and small trees could be dotted about. This sort of plant habitat can be found on all continents except Antarctica.
By analyzing naturally occurring plant combinations around the planet in addition to in the field across the street, we may find the humblest yet best plant combinations.
Here we’ve got a hillside in northern Mongolia covered in a matrix of fine grasses and magnificent globe thistles (Echinops sp, zones 3 to 9). This simple juxtaposition — airy champagne-colored blossoms and bright blue flowery chunks — is one which can readily be reproduced in garden settings, boulder discretionary.
When we think of grasslands, visions of this rolling vastness of the American Great Plains or the African savannah may come into mind. Yet we do not need endless acreage and a bunch of giraffes to set up a sign of a grassland in the yard.
Grasses are found in almost every possible niche, such as in this little clearing at a larch forest close to Siberia. Because of their delicate, often inflorescences that are plume-y, grasses shine when backlit.
To recreate a few of this magic of grasslands at home, we need a researched selection of … grasses. Retail nurseries assert a range of decorative selections that are appropriate and non invasive. Online sources abound as well.
Considering most true blossoms are partial to full sunshine and well-drained soil, we must make certain that our area of layout fits this taste — gloomy blossoms become drab and floppy. Grouping together several units of the same bud, hence creating dynamic drifts, is equally organic and design savvy. In this case masses of tall, easygoing miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis cvs, zones 4 to 9) dress large bed regions within this residential Vancouver development.
Robert Shuler Design
Several types of blossoms make excellent ground covers, from ankle reduced (believe fescue and sesleria) to shoulder top (switchgrass, miscanthus). Here we’ve got a smart choice of blossoms and a couple of companion plants that produce a tasteful, restful and most likely low-maintenance and drought-tolerant composition.
Restricted to one or a number of kinds of similar heights, favorite grasses may be equally applied to any sizable area. It’s just as a bountiful lawn replacement, or as a tasteful transition between manicured and crazy zones, this design approach shines brightest.
In the Chanticleer backyard in Pennsylvania, a large expanse of such grasses is sensibly bisected with a neatly manicured yard route, creating an exemplar minimalist landscape intervention.
Later in the season, another illustration of massed grasses shows terrific results. In the foreground lie switchgrass (Panicum sp) and fountain grass (Pennisetum sp).
Associating individual units of different varieties of grasses may at first sound counterintuitive, maybe plain risqué. To reassure ourselves, let us think of a painter juxtaposing various colors of the same color: The outcome is all about finesse and subtleties. An excellent example of this approach can be seen at the courtyard of the Petit Palais in Paris, displayed here, with Pampas grasses (Cortaderia sp, sets 6 to 9) controlling this gem of an all-grass composition.
A close-up of the unique Parisian display reveals the similar colors and textures of those nonetheless different blossoms.
Various flowering perennials make perfect natural companions to grasses. Dotted through the composition, they include contrast in foliage and color interest. Asters, coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea cvs, zones 3 to 9), daisies and liatris are some of the best contenders for this particular job.
The oh-so-trendy meadow planting fashion, championed in expansive urban schemes like New York’s High Line and London’s Olympic Park, relies upon comparable naturally occurring plant combinations. Here, the lawn of an abandoned building in Vancouver charmingly yells without anybody’s consent.
Simplicity is thus often crucial. It sometimes takes no more than a broken lawn mower (or protracted holidays for your gardener) for wild grasses and their flowery companions to reclaim their due. In Lotbinière, Quebec, a summer house goes all natural using a screen of oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare, sets 2 to 8) and wild blossoms.
More in this collection: Shape a Sea-Inspired Garden | Suggestions for a Woodland Garden
Devise a Desert Garden | Mighty Mountain Gardens