During his many visits to Japan’s Barakura English Garden, plant expert, writer, and podcaster Michael Perry, aka Mr. Plant Geek, discovered an inventive kind of container gardening that he hadn’t seen anywhere else on his travels.
According to Michael Perry, barakura is similar to flower arranging with natural plants, except that you achieve an instant effect by utilizing a variety of plants placed close together, so the container looks excellent right away.
On his five or six visits to the Japanese garden, he has seen specialists growing containers in the Barakura manner.
You can mix and match plants from various groupings – shrubs, perennials, grasses, and more – to create an instant wow impact by squeezing them in and focusing on foliage rather than flowers.
How to can you create one?
Plant selection is not limited when it comes to planting. Here, you may let your creative side shine. Over the years, there have been various airy plantings developed, with a sometimes startling density of plants. You may also customize your plants as they’re being planted. For example, you can separate multi-rooted plants, root-balls can be rearranged to fit a rectangular area, and so on.
Barakura style throws caution to the wind when it comes to planting combinations. This approach can blend plants with slightly diverse requirements into one space. However, this is irrelevant because you’re making a container for the medium to short term, not one that will endure three years.
What plants work well in a Barakura-style container?
Gardeners are hesitant to plant anything that isn’t an annual or a patio plant in a container. Lupins and delphiniums are rarely found in pots. People aren’t particularly creative.
Although shrubs are more challenging to grow in a pot, you may combine a shrub with other patio plants. It won’t stay in there for years, and you’ll need to reorganize it from time to time, which you may accomplish with Barakura style.
Michael Perr adds that the obedient plant Physostegia virginiana, which is particularly cool, can be used a lot in the autumn. Many of these plants are treated with a dwarfing agent in Japan to keep them small. Still, they don’t do that in the U.K. with perennials, usually purchased in larger sizes. The obedient plant gives you the blossoms when they are still young.
You can also use celosia, a popular plant to impulsively buy. Rock plants, such as sedum, with delicate, intricate leaves for the dressing are also options. For example, dahlias or chrysanthemums with cosmos, ornamental grasses, and ferns can tie the container planting together with their foliage.
What is the lifespan of Barakura-style container planting?
The durability is deceivingly good. You would think that because they’re planted so close together, the plants will compete and die, but you’ll be surprised at how long the pots live.
Michael Perry says that the pots can last for months; however, you may need to swap out plants beyond their prime for better alternatives in some circumstances.
Plants can be planted in pockets, and plants can be readily lifted and replaced with others. You could even put plants in their pots to make it look like you’re arranging flowers with real plants. It might be done that way if folks are concerned about the roots growing into each other.
Although barakura-style containers are more expensive, you can still plant in them if you’ve grown from cuttings or discover good value plants.
How could you give the Barakura treatment to autumn pots?
Don’t limit yourself to plants in your garden center’s autumn-planting section. Look at the perennials section of the store. There may be perennials, such as hardy geraniums, or shrubs, such as young pittosporum or photinia. You may also want to head to the conifer department and have a tiny conifer as your focal point.
People must understand that you will not be growing something for many years, but rather for a few months. After that, you’ll be dismantling and reassembling it so that the conifer can be put into the garden or replanted around it.
Heathers and pansies, as well as later-blooming perennials like Japanese anemones and rudbeckia, Michael Perry suggests, might provide color to your Barakura-style pot.
In the summer, you could create some pots by combining houseplants — such as spider plants and monstera – with outdoor plants.
Bring all those plants together in the garden center and see how they work together. Make that you have enough to cover any gaps.
Some Japanese students would roll the plant to make the root block more oblong-shaped, allowing it to fit into the container easily. You certainly can do so. It means you can put a plant in a gap or shape it into a crescent. It works with multi-stemmed plants, such as grasses.
What about compost?
Always buy high-quality compost with moisture-retentive characteristics and nutrients built-in. Michael Perry also recommends adding some slow-release fertilizer and moisture-retaining crystals.
Because the plants are packed in, the Barakura-style container will be more competitive. Still, if you have adequate soil, you’ll have a decent chance of succeeding. You’ll need to maintain watering because the rain won’t suffice. Have a saucer beneath you to assist you.
What are your thoughts on Barakura-style gardening? Will you try this style of container gardening?