วันเสาร์ที่ 13 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2551

Going Native - Plants for the Rural Garden

Going Native - Plants for the Rural Garden

One difficulty encountered by those planning a rural garden is choosing plants which blend in well with the surrounding area. Urban gardens tend to be inward-looking - surrounded by high walls or fences designed to provide privacy and screening of other buildings. Country gardens, however, tend to be outward-looking - privacy may not be such a problem and views are often of attractive countryside. Rural gardeners usually want their plots to merge with the surrounding area, which will also help increase the apparent size of the garden, and this is where careful consideration needs to be given to the choice of plant material.

Some people use only native plants in their gardens, but for most of us that is too restricted a palette. My own approach is to grow more 'exotic' plants near to the house and slowly blend towards native plants and their close relatives towards the boundaries, where they help link the planting to the countryside beyond. Taking climbing roses as an example, climbing floribundas would be used against the house wall whereas single flowered species would be better clambering through the fence at the end of the garden.

One good web resource for finding British native plants in a particular area is the Flora for Fauna Postcode Plants Database, located at http://www.suite101.com/external_link.cfm?elink=http://www.nhm.ac.uk/science/projects/fff/. By simply entering your postcode, you will be provided by a list of plants native to your locality. Plants that are considered 'garden-worthy' are highlighted.

As an example, in my own garden I grow the following plants, which are listed as being native to my locality:
Cornus sanguinea (Dogwood), Malva sylvestris (Common Mallow), Primula vulgaris (Primrose), Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone), Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove), Hedera helix (Ivy), Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle), Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell), Ajuga reptans (Bugle), Aquilegia vulgaris (Columbine), Leucanthemum vulgaris (Ox-eye Daisy), Dianthus deltoides (Maiden Pink), Calluna vulgaris (Heather), Sedum telephium (Orpine), Lysimachia vulgaris (Yellow Loosestrife), Betula pendula (Silver Birch).

In many cases, I grow the natural species, but sometimes a specific cultivar will add more interest to the garden. For example, Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' has vividly coloured stems, whilst Sedum telephium 'Munstead Dark Red' has purple-tinted leaves and purplish red flowers.

Don't forget that not all the plants listed for your locality will necessarily grow well in your garden, as the area may include many different habitats and soil types. Plants that grow well in open areas on sandy soil may not cope with boggy shade on clay.
You can widen your choice of plants by including other non-native plants from the same genus. For example, the Chinese relative of Sedum telephium, Sedum spectabile, is similar in appearance but taller and with a range of flower colours, .

whilst the garden hybrid Sedum 'Herbstfreude' (which used to be more attractively named 'Autumn Joy') has flower corymbs which turn copper-red in autumn.
English Country Gardening comes to you from East Sussex in South East England (Zone 8/9)

copy fromhttp://www.suite101.com

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