It doesn't matter what kind of spring garden style you have, whether it is smart and modern, stark and minimalist or wonderfully old-fashioned, there is always room for a strong display of spring plants. The secret is choosing the most suitable plants for your preferred style, and then finding the right position. Many gardeners find themselves moving plants two or three times before they are in the right position. Thereafter they should quickly flourish.
Gardens in formal style have strong, clearly defined, regular shapes, and the plants have clearly fixed positions. Geometrically regular, with lavish style and symmetry -that is how French gardens look like. Chaotic jungles they are not! When planting out bulbs like tulips, for example, aim for large, solid displays with equal spacing between each bulb. impressive order is the keynote.
Cottage garden style
Cottage gardens have a loose, free-flowering design, with hazy boundaries between the different areas. the plants are encouraged to self-seed, ramble, and climb like Clematis. While tall plants generally go to the back, and the small to the front, the rule need not always be followed.
Contemporary gardens make good use of modern structures, gadgets and clean, simple paving. They use painted decking, outdoor lighting, architectural plants, jets of water rather than traditional fountains, and can look like an upbeat, outdoor room.
Modern garden design
Plants can either be used to soften or accentuate the look. Softening spring plants include blue scillas, Anemone blanda with starry blue, white or pink flowers, and deep blue Chionodoxa sardensis, with plenty of white snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis). If you want just one or two quite beautiful flowering shrubs to set off the hard landscaping, Rosa mutabilis is one of the first roses to flower in spring, in a warm, sheltered site, and ends with flourishes in the fall. The buds are flame red, with light pink flowers that darken with age.
Sunny garden styles. Drought-tolerant plants are the key plants for a Mediterranean look, with pots, strong scent and bright colors. With almost infallible herbs, spices, olives and tomatoes, in a Mediterranean garden can often be found a benches to enjoy the sunshine. Olive trees in pots can spend summer outside, while more permanent plants could include lavender (Lavandula), Cistus, and one or two exotics, such as Yucca. A vertical rosemary can be pruned to add shapeliness - try 'Miss Jessopp's upright', or the upright 'Tuscan Blue'. With its dark blue spring flowers, it will catch the eye, especially when underplanted with small, bright red species tulips like Tulipa linifolia. Blue aubrieta on white walls also gives a terrific, early season contrast.
Mediterranean garden plants
Decorative leaves, rich colors, interesting shapes and tender plants make up the exotic garden. Top of any shopping list is a cherry tree for its sensational spring blossom and a Gunnera manicata for its new spring growth of sharply-toothed leaves that grow like satellite dishes to 8 ft high. You also need a Magnolia stellata with its pretty white flowers. Add a bamboo and Iris reticulata, and the picture is complete!
Exotic garden style
Formal garden style
Formal garden, Wentworth Castle Gardens, South Yorkshire