Garden Photo of the Day

Careful Design for a Naturalistic Effect

Masterful plantings from a UK gardener

I’m always excited when I see an email from Istvan Dudas in the GPOD inbox. If you’ve missed previous posts from him, start here and enjoy. Istvan works as a gardener at a private garden in the United Kingdom, and these new images show a wild, romantic, magical space.

This planting in an orchard appears very wild and natural, but creating a look like this requires careful management. To prevent woody weeds from taking over, the tall grass needs to be cut once the bulb foliage has matured. In addition, the color palette of dark purple, blue, and white is carefully curated. Sometimes a naturalistic garden can require as much work as a more formal garden.

Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis, Zones 4–8) is native to Europe but, unfortunately, is invasive in much of North America.

I think part of why Istvan’s plantings are so effective is that each bed is planted very densely. There is no empty space, which means that each bed is full and lush and looks more like how plants grow in nature.

Repeating the same plant throughout a planting is a great way to tie it together and give it a sense of cohesion and unity. Here, tall spires of perennial salvia (Salvia nemorosa, Zones 4–8) form the thread tying this display together.

Tightly packing many plants into a bed works especially well if their colors are chosen carefully. This view is all purple and red with a little pink, giving way to some yellow in the distance. Limiting your plantings to just a few colors is an easy way make a display look more sophisticated.

Surrounding this brilliant pink coneflower (Echinacea, Zones 4–8) with darker purple makes its color look even brighter.


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View Comments


  1. avongardener 09/13/2019

    Wow! Just gorgeous! So artistically done. Thanks for sharing.

  2. deeinde 09/13/2019

    Beautiful! And I can imagine there is a lot of 'editing' going on in this naturalistic garden to keep it looking like this!

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/13/2019

    Istvan, what is the white plant mingling alongside & with the coneflowers? All is totally amazing!

  4. User avater
    user-7007816 09/13/2019

    A beautiful garden with a naturalistic feel. This is something I am working on, but haven't quite achieved. Dense plantings seem to be one of the keys.

  5. garden1953 09/13/2019

    So lush and simply gorgeous!

  6. cheryl_c 09/13/2019

    This is the type of garden I love but have yet to achieve, especially to keep something going through the whole season. Congratulations on this masterpiece!

  7. moyra_b 09/13/2019

    Absolutely stunning! What a pleasure to look at!

  8. User avater
    simplesue 09/13/2019

    Those flower beds are amazing. I know they are not as easy to create as just planting some flowers. It must have taken years of experimentation to achieve such perfection. Every plant looks so comfortable in it's space, yet nice and tight! Such beauty! Also was happy to learn about "Hesperis matronalis" aka Dame's Rocket. I've seen it growing wild along the road, and is interesting to see it used here. Oh, how I would love to walk through this garden, but at least I've had virtual tour!

  9. user-7537887 09/20/2019

    Thank you for sharing this great post, I am very impressed with your post, the information given is meticulous and easy to understand. I will often follow your next post. geometry dash

  10. User avater
    RonaldTague 10/08/2019

    Well Done!

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