What exactly is Barakura style gardening – and how do you do it?

During his many visits to the English Garden in Barakura, Japan, Michael Perry, a blogger and podcaster, also known as Mr. Plant Geek, came across an imaginative style of container planting that he had not seen anywhere else during his travels.

“Barakura has become an art form of gardening, and flowering is a way to plant with plants, breaking the rules a little,” says Perry, who gives advice on mrplantgeek.com and is a co-host of The Plant Based Podcast (theplantbasedpodcast). .net) with another garden lover Ellen Mary.

What is Barakura-style planting?

“It’s like flower arranging with live plants, but it has an immediate effect if we use a number of different plants that are planted close together so the container looks good right away,” he explains.

He witnessed experts installing containers the Barakura style when he visited the garden five or six times in Japan.

You can combine plants from many different groups — shrubs, perennials, grasses, and more — and the idea is to achieve an instant wow factor by stuffing them in and getting the most out of the foliage instead of focusing only on the flower.

What kind of plants are suitable for Barakura style container?

“Gardeners are very shy to plant anything in a pot that is not an annual plant or a garden plant. Rarely see lupine or delphinium in pots. People are not so resourceful.

“Sure, shrubs get a little heavier in a pot, but we can use a shrub for some garden plants. It won’t be in it for years and needs to be reorganized from time to time, but with Barakura style you can do it.

“There’s a lot to use in the fall, that obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana, which is really cool. In Japan, many of these plants are treated with dwarf material to keep them small, but in the UK this is not the case with perennials, which are usually bought larger. The obedient plant blooms at a young age.

“They also use cello (rooster comb), which is often an impulse purchase here. Rock plants such as mud with very fine, detailed foliage can be used as dressings. ”

Other combinations include dahlias or chrysanthemums with a cosmos, ornamental grasses and ferns whose foliage can connect to a container planting.

How long does Barakura-style container planting last?

“Longevity is deceptively good. One assumes that because you plant so tightly, the plants will compete and won’t last that long, but I’m impressed with the longevity of the pots.

Barakura style cookware lasts for months (Michael Perry / PA)

Pots can actually last for months, although in some cases you may need to replace plants that are already over for a healthier replacement.

“You can pocket the plants and easily lift the plants to replace them with others. You could even throw plants in their pots – it would really be a flower arrangement with real plants. If people are afraid that the roots will grow into each other, this can be done anyway.

“Barakura-style containers can cost a little more, but you can still plant them if you’ve grown them from cuttings or find good value for money plants.”

How could you give Barakura treatment for autumn pots?

“Don’t just look for plants in the fall planting department of your garden. Look in the perennial box. There may be perennials that now look good because of their foliage, such as hardy geraniums or shrubs – such as young pittosporum or fotinia, but it’s worth going to the conifer department and putting a mini conifer in the center.

“People need to understand that we won’t be installing this for years, but for months. It breaks it down and reassembles it for planting in the garden, or you may need to replant it around the conifer.

Sounds and pansies can add color to Barakura-style tiles, or to later flowering perennials such as Japanese anemone and rudbeckia, he suggests.

It may be too late to mix indoor plants with outdoor favorites, but in the summer, you can make some pots that combine houseplants, such as spider plants and monsters, with outdoor plants.

“When you’re at the garden center, bring these plants together and see how they combine. Make sure it is enough to fill in the gaps.

“Some students in Japan are winding up the plant to make the root block longer, so it will fit differently in the container. You can absolutely do that. This means you can slide a plant into a gap or make it crescent-shaped. It works with multi-stemmed plants such as grasses.

What about compost?

“Always invest in good quality compost and choose varieties that have moisture-retaining properties and nutrients, but I also advise you to add some slow-release fertilizer and moisture-retaining crystals.

“The Barakura-style container will be more competitive because the plants are packed, but if the soil is good, there is a good chance of success.

“It needs to be watered all the time – the rainfall won’t be enough. Having a saucer at the bottom will help. ”

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