[AD] My Plans For A Small Dry Garden With Hayloft

4th August 2021
Purple-grey allium seed heads in Beth Chatto's garden in Essex.

I’ve been so inspired by Beth Chatto’s Dry Garden and the work of Dutch garden designer Piet Outdoulf for such a long time. In fact, I’m obsessed. If you’ve ever had the absolute joy of visiting Beth’s garden at her home in Essex or Oudolf Field at Hauser and Wirth in Somerset, you’ll recognise natural, freeform planting packed full of texture and visual interest. I love these gardens for their effortless look, that you more or less leave the plants to themselves aside from a little maintenance. And I know, technically there’s a lot more to it, but aesthetically, we’re going for unmanicured and natural.

Beth’s dry garden still hasn’t been watered since it was planted some thirty years ago with drought-tolerant plants surviving entirely on rainfall. And with the current strain on the environment, we’re going to see a lot more of this style of gardening in the future. Low-water gardening is entirely possible with the right plan in place. And I’m giving it a go in a smaller part of our garden which is in dire need of transformation…

Where The New Garden’s Going…

A before photo montage of a small raised bed made with railway sleepers before a transformation.

We have a raised bed made from old railway sleepers outside our kitchen window that I knew would be the perfect border to plant up a small dry garden. It has a sweet little deck beside it perfect for a small seating area. Best of all, I can watch it change throughout the seasons through the window.

Whilst this south-west facing spot gets loads of sun and light during the day it has definitely seen better days as you can see from the ‘before’ photos. It never had much in the way of any intentional planting, bar what previous owners had left and I bunged in when we first moved in. The only thing vaguely happy here is the honeysuckle which we’ll keep for the bees.

Hayloft – Rare, Unusual and Exciting Plants

Working with the brilliant all-female team of horticulturalists at Hayloft, purveyors of rare, unusual and exciting plants, I’ve planned out how I’ll transform this neglected border into a self-sufficient garden with drought-tolerant hardy perennials and grasses. Their online nursery is full of quirky and unusual plants to choose from and with their help, I’ve picked out a strong team of low-water, gravel garden plants. I’m thinking lots of height, texture and movement with seed heads to feed the birds in winter. Take a look at the moodboard for some of the options we’ve settled on planting…

A garden inspiration moodboard for a small contemporary dry garden in a raised bed.
  1. Penstemon White Bedder, Hayloft.
  2. Echinops Arctic Glow, Hayloft.
  3. Natural cotton seat pads, The White Company.
  4. Reclaimed railway sleepers.
  5. Hoff pot by Berg, The Future Kept.
  6. Fermob Balad portable lamp, Heal’s.
  7. Braised jute cushion, Original Home at Heal’s.
  8. Striped cotton seat cushion, H&M Home.
  9. Crushed whelk shells, Shell On Earth.
  10. Fermob Mooon table lamp, Heal’s.
  11. Pennisetum Advena Sky Rocket grasses, Hayloft.
Swathes of mexican feather grass in a dry garden setting.
Deep brown sculptural artichoke heads at the Beth Chatto Garden in Essex.

Check back next week for the full reveal and keep your eye on IG stories for my step-by-step journey!

Photography © Tiffany Grant-Riley.