Garden Photo of the Day

Design Advice for a Wild, Informal Garden

Today we have more photos from the incredible Istvan, a gardener in the United Kingdom. (For previous posts of his garden, start here.) I asked Istvan how he designs his incredible plantings, and he shared some of his tips and techniques.

My design is very simple. I like to repeat some flowers in the border, but I also like to use a random planting scheme that gives a naturalistic face for it. I like very much to use annuals, biennials, and tender perennials with the perennials and self-seeding plants.

I also like to use tall plants in the front of the border, because I think it gives a positive feeling for the human eye.

For the past two years, I haven’t used gravel on the double border path, because I want to create the feeling that I am walking on a path in a fairytale.

I use strong colors and the contrast between the colors.

All year, I keep planting the borders with the annuals, tender perennials, and perennials that will flower their first year, which I grow from seeds or from cuttings. And every year, I try to design a different face of the border.

Rather than a crisp, gravel path, this is a simple, well-trodden trail between the plants. Istvan says it makes the path feel like one in a fairytale.


Change is good. This is the same view as in the photo above, but it looks completely different. Don’t get complacent with your garden; keep changing it up and creating new, beautiful views.


Most design books say to put tall plants in the back and short plants in the front, but Istvan treats them differently, letting tall plants come to the front, which makes the whole planting look natural and romantic. Here, plants of all different heights intermingle casually.


Perennials, biennials, annuals, and tender perennials all intermingle. Istvan keeps planting constantly to ensure that the beds are always full, lush, and packed with interest.


Bold, contrasting colors are everywhere, and are mixed randomly. Repeating the same plants throughout the planting helps pull it all together.


A final look at the incredible garden. It was great to hear some of the ideas Istvan uses in creating this garden, but I think what I most learned is to not follow the “rules.” Letting a garden be a bit wild, unpredictable, and unconventional can be the most exciting.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    user-7007816 10/04/2019

    Istvan, I love your plantings. One thing that I learned was that "natural" plantings don't need to be limited to "native" plants. I have a large new area ready to plant and all of your ideas will be helpful. Thanks.

    1. Istvan82 10/04/2019

      Thank you very much. I am pleased that my work inspired you I can suggest to be free to be creative and to break
      break the rules when you are designing your new flower border because I think that in naturalistic planting there are no rules !

  2. Istvan82 10/04/2019

    Thank you very much. I am pleased that my work inspired you I can suggest to be free to be creative and to break
    break the rules when you are designing your new flower border because I think that in naturalistic planting there are no rules !

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/04/2019

    Istvan, just no words! It is like a dream. So lovely!

    1. Istvan82 10/04/2019

      Thank you very much. I am glad that you like it!

  4. wittyone 10/04/2019

    Just beautiful!!! I found it interesting that repeating plants throughout the area gives cohesion to the whole even when colors are random. That does make sense.

    Here's to breaking the rules!

    1. Istvan82 10/04/2019

      Thank you very much!

  5. btucker9675 10/04/2019

    Your gardens are like beautiful tapestries - amazing!

    1. Istvan82 10/04/2019

      Thank you very much !

  6. Cenepk10 10/05/2019

    This romantic garden is my cup of tea ! Love love love it ! Wish I could meander through it... Please !!!! More photos, please. Need some drone shots for perspective!!!!

  7. carolineyoungwilliams 10/07/2019

    Istvan, Thank you for sharing your beautiful informal garden. I just love the bold contrasting colors, the different heights complimenting each other and your beds packed tight with a variety of flowers. Kudos on a job well done. I am always looking for ways to enhance what I have so thanks for the helpful tips. Be Blessed.

  8. User avater
    RonaldTague 10/08/2019


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