Trees and interesting shrubs always make a good first impression, but it's the smaller herbaceous plants, ferns and grasses that fill out the space, blur the boundaries and soften all of the edges.
On visiting a garden this week that we completed just over a year ago, we were delighted to see our vision for the space realised. We had designed the sloping site with gentle stone steps, cor-ten steel retaining walls and wide resting platforms, intentionally leaving large planting spaces between levels. Steps going in different directions along with the large planting pockets entice you to journey through whichever way you please.
Now, hardy ferns spill over the steps, grasses arch over the steel walls, and perennials like Astilbe creep through the gaps. As you walk through the shady side of the garden, you find yourself slowing down to walk between the planting, noticing all of the different textures, unaware of any hard edges.
We always liken planting in the garden to soft furnishings in the house - they provide colour and interest, pull the scheme together, and soften all the hard edges.
So go on and get planting!