Ivydene Gardens Garden Design:
Plant Selection

Glossary for Page

Perennial Strictly, any plant living for at least three seasons; commonly applied to herbaceous plants (evergreen perennials) and woody perennials (i.e. trees and shrubs). (See also Annual, Biennial.)


Bulb A modified stem acting as a storage organ and consisting mainly of fleshy, more or less separate or tightly packed, scale leaves (a modified bud) on a much reduced stem (basal plate).


Herbaceous A non-woody plant in which the upper parts die down to a rootstock at the end of the growing season. It is chiefly applied to perennials, although botanically it also applies to annuals and biennials.

The Selection of Plants

ground cover plants and branches pictureMaintaining a garden is a time-consuming business, but there are some things which can be done to minimise the time.

Try to build into any scheme, in particular, the use of ground cover plants (see Ground Cover Page). If you do not have a specific style of garden in mind, the most appropriate is usually an informal mix of trees and shrubs, hardy perennials (as ground cover) and bulbs (in ground cover areas and lawns), with broad sweeps of lawn — not too fiddly to mow.

Using too many herbaceous plants is labour intensive, and will not provide colour all the year round, which most people want. In this type of planting, the trees or shrubs provide the background or shape, the bulbs and hardy perennials provide definite colour during the spring, summer and autumn, and the ground cover retains moisture and prevents the growth of weeds.

From everything we have said, it can be seen that trees and plants for your garden should be selected, not on a whim, but to fit in with a specific design.

The first step is to decide which trees and large shrubs will form the line and shape of the garden. This ‘structural’ element requires trees and shrubs which are more than 2.1m (7ft) high so that they will not only provide the line of the garden and form the required shape within the hard lines of the boundary, but also act as a screen to hide poor views together with providing privacy and shelter.

Having established the types of ‘structural’ plants that could be used, you then consider specific aspects of each plant as detailed in the step-by-step guide to selecting plants. In addition, each plant must be selected so that it will complement both those existing plants next to it and any new ones in colour, texture, form and shape.

Public demand for water has increased by 70 per cent over the last 30 years, and 40-70 per cent of the water supply for the south and east of England is dependent on ground water reserves. Due to these water restrictions, your plant designs should move towards drought tolerant plants and to use a 4 inch deep organic mulch (Spent Mushroom Compost, Garden Compost or Cow Manure) over the whole of the bed or hedge area after the plants have been planted.

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Site design and content copyright ©December 2006. Page structure amended October 2012. Chris Garnons-Williams.

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Garden Design Pages

Site Map
Before You Start
Designing for a Purpose
Site Survey
The Design Itself
Broad Design
Low Maintenance Style
Cottage Garden Style
Wildlife Garden Style
Japanese Garden Style
Hard and Soft Landscaping
Detailed Design
The Soil
Changing the Microclimate
Plant Selection *
The Colour Wheel
Plant Quantities
Companion Planting
Bibliography and further Design Concepts



See Explanation of Structure of this Website with User Guidelines to aid your use of this website.

Case Studies
Companion Planting
Garden Construction

Garden Design *
...RHS Mixed Borders
......Bedding Plants
......Her Perennials

......Other Plants

Garden Maintenance
Offbeat Glossary
Tool Shed
Useful Data

Topic - Plant Photo Galleries
Colour Wheel


Your chosen Garden Style then changes your Plant Selection Process

Garden Style
...Infill Plants
...12 Bloom Colours per Month Index
12 Foliage Colours per Month Index
...All Plants Index
...Cultivation, Position, Use Index
...Shape, Form

Deciduous Shrub
Deciduous Tree
Evergreen Perennial
Evergreen Shrub
Evergreen Tree

Herbaceous Perennial
...P -Herbaceous
...RHS Wisley

...Flower Shape

Odds and Sods

Soft Fruit
Top Fruit
Wild Flower

Topic - Wildlife on Plant Photo Gallery