Discover your planting style

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In this extract from his new book, Adam Frost explains how to discover your planting style

The planting in your garden doesn’t need to be complicated. If you do a little research and prepare a moodboard you’ll be able to create a garden that captures your personality.
There are lots of defined planting styles, but for me a garden should reflect your personality. So, as you’re drawn around your space, don’t just think about planting styles, but also consider mood or emotion. Planting shouldn’t be dictated just by how it looks, but how it makes you feel.
The best way to identify your planting style is to build a moodboard specifically for your soft landscaping (planting areas). Books, magazines and Pinterest are a great starting point for planting inspiration, but don’t forget to head outside too.
Check out a local garden centre to see what’s on offer; head to a park or a local garden open day and take a look at the borders. Whenever you spot something you like, try to work out what it is you like about it exactly. Are the plants tumbling into each other? Do vibrant colours catch your eye?
Wherever you go, take photos and make plenty of notes. Write down words that describe the atmosphere you’d like the garden to evoke and how you want it to make you feel when you spend time in it. You might notice one underlying theme shining through your notes or perhaps a few themes that could influence different areas of the garden. For example, you might want to create a quiet contemplative space that links to a lively area for entertaining. The theme(s) that you finally settle on hopefully reveal a little of your personality.
You don’t need to be familiar with well-known planting styles in order to plant a garden, but you may find it useful to research a few online, such as romantic; formal or informal; minimalist or maximalist; Contemporary; traditional (eg cottage garden); exotic; coastal; wildlife friendly.
As you start building a wishlist of ideal plants for each layer, keep your moodboard handy to help you focus on your garden’s overall theme and identify anything that doesn’t seem to fit. By referring back to your moodboard when choosing and sourcing materials, you can avoid becoming overwhelmed by all the various different possibilities on offer.
Create a moodboard to establish the type of atmosphere you want to create. Gather source materials from books, magazines, Pinterest, paint swatches, natural objects and photos from garden visits as a starting point. It might be a texture, colour, pattern or shape that catches your eye. Add words that describe the feelings or emotions evoked by these items.
Assemble your favourite images on a sheet of card to work out your preferred colour schemes and planting styles (eg formal/informal). Bear these in mind as you build your wishlist of plants for each layer – trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs.

This is an edited extract from RHS How to Create Your Garden by Adam Frost (£20, DK), available at all good book retailers and garden centres.

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HOW TO BUILD A MOODBOARD
Create a moodboard to establish the type of atmosphere you want to create in your garden. Use books, magazines, Pinterest and photos from garden visits as a starting point. Assemble your favourite images on a sheet of cardboard to work out your preferred colour schemes and planting styles (eg romantic, formal, minimalist, wildlife-friendly etc). Bear these ideas in mind as you start to build your wish list of ideal plants for each layer – trees, climbers, shrubs, perennials and bulbs