Wildflower gardens are unkempt and a bit scruffy, right? Well, they don’t have to be. There’s a place for wild flowers in modern contemporary gardens too.

If you prefer a clean-cut, well designed and contemporary garden, native plants can be used to great effect in providing both the structure and the ever-changing palette of colour. In fact, many are already tried-and-tested stalwarts of the designers’ repertoire, while others can be put to great effect if you’re willing to be a bit more adventurous.

Shapes in green...

For the structure, the scope is as broad as your imagination. Strong, architectural structure can be provided by a range of native shrubs that lend themselves to creative hedging and topiary.

  • Box, yew and holly are all excellent native evergreens that can be clipped and trained into all manner of shapes. For a modern look, steer clear of peacocks and instead adopt simple, strong forms such as balls, obelisks and cones
  • The gleaming white trunks of birch can look fabulous against an evergreen background, providing a strong vertical element
  • Deciduous trees provide more opportunities for shape and colour. Consider the classic beech and hornbeam hedge, or why not have a go at pleaching a row of limes, hornbeams or whitebeam?

Colour in style...

For the colour, it’s often best to keep the colour palette simple. Again, there are some classic combinations, or you could try dramatic block planting of single colours or even a single species.

  • White is very classy. Choose the elegant white forms of flowers such as Foxglove, Wood crane’s-bill and Rosebay Willowherb.
  • Pinks can be either very softening, with the gentle colours of Ragged Robin and Water Avens, or hot and spicy with fuchsia- pink Purple-loosestrife and Betony.
  • Blues are especially good in the evening, when they’re enhanced by the softer light. Meadow Crane’s-bill, Jacob’s-ladder and Meadow Clary can all provide good true blues.
  • Purples can be deep, sensuous and a bit mysterious. The blackberry-stained forms of Wild Carrot, Cow Parsley and Wild Angelica all work wonderfully with whites and pinks.
  • Yellows are best used carefully, providing highlights rather than an overall theme. Meadow Buttercup, especially the double and pale forms, can be very effective, or go for a bit more drama with a block of Yellow Iris.

Some of our native wildflowers can rival more exotic garden plants and have earned their place alongside them. Wild and rugged is one style, neat and contemporary is another. Whatever your preference, there’s a place for native wildflowers in your garden.

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