New perennial movement: wash out or taking root?

garden design, grasses, perennial flowers, irish, international

Grasses and perennials as used in my Bloom show garden for Barretstown

With the Garden and Landscape Design Association’s (GLDA) seminar on the horizon this weekend, the focus is very much on the so-called “new perennial movement” or “prairie planting” style of planting design that has captured the imagination of garden designers for the last twenty years of so.  This is probably one of the biggest fashion shake-ups to have gripped the garden design world (both amateur and professional) for quite some time. Even minimalist and avant-garde designers who typically seek to pair back designed planting to just a few plants repeated across the design, have now adopted some the plants used in the new movement, namely the soft, wavy grasses and striking perennial flowers.

I too have been keen to adopt this naturalistic planting style, where suitable.  The only thing about it in Ireland is that with our very wet and windy climate the typical plants do not always suit and often a sheltered, free-draining site is needed.

That said, with careful thought and with a lean in the design plan towards using native grasses and perennials mixed with tolerant exotics, this style of planting can be adapted to many sites.

grasses, perennial flowers, new border

Some new wave perennial planting in a garden I designed in Limerick. Includes Stipa grass, Astlilbe and Coreopsis.

We also see this style evolving with stronger emphasis being placed on ecological planting mixes, which is really important if we are to try and infuse nature conservation ideas that help maximise the biodiversity benefits of our designs.  These can often be the most interesting designs in terms of year round interest (of colour, form and texture), something we can be grateful to the new perennial movement for.

For details on the seminar, check out the GLDA website.

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