Case Study: Colourful Polyculture Design

This simple design for a series of garden beds was created for a client in London, who wished to amend and accentuate an existing planting scheme with more edible and colourful plants. Particularly, the client wished to add colourful foliage, with plenty of different vegetation to brighten up the green and year-round interest.

Often, we need to balance a line in permaculture design between the restrictions and demands of the site and the individual preferences of the client. Managing the expectations about what is possible, and suggesting alternatives can help to guide gardeners to a design that really will work for their space.

The client in this case was very keen to grow Strelitzia, for example. But this is not winter hardy so is best grown in containers to take indoors over winter. I suggested some other impressive and vibrant flowers that could be grown in the conditions in this garden, such as day lilies (also an edible) and Montbretia… to give a similar effect.

In this design, shade (especially towards the southern end of the back garden) limited the options. But there are plenty of interesting forest garden plants that can also work well in a shaded border. Hostas are one of my favourites – not just an attractive plant for shade (with varied foliage options) but also a useful perennial vegetable.

One thing that this design demonstrates is that you can create a predominantly ornamental garden which can also provide plenty of food and other useful yields.

Many gardeners compartmentalise. They have ornamental borders, and a vegetable garden with annual fruits and vegetables grown in strict rows. But it is possible to have more melding between the different gardens, with edible plants in borders, and flowers in polyculture annual beds.

If you do not have the budget or time to overhaul your whole garden right now, I can help you create a new plan for a smaller section – perhaps an individual bed or border in your garden. Please do get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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