Nordic garden design 

Garden designer and author Annika Zetterman believes that our gardens should help us, our wildlife and our wider environment thrive.

What makes a New Nordic garden?

Scandinavian gardens have rapidly changed over the past few years. ‘New 
Nordic gardens’ are created in harmony with both our design ethos and our 
landscapes. Today’s gardens show strength and thought through design expressions while respecting our Scandinavian heritage. Gardens are so much more than an extension of a home; they are spaces we like to use to their full potential and where we spend a lot of time in.

Survival is not taken for granted, and gardens have to be maintained with persistence and care

What are the basic design principles of a Scandinavian garden?

We marry functionally and sustainability with grace. Things created in the Nordics – and in particular for outdoor spaces – have to last. Great gardens require skilled craftsmanship. The very concept of simplicity involves precise accurate solutions, not compromising on execution or material, or taking short cuts. We have utmost respect for materials and embrace things that are natural, sparse and clean. 

What are the key plants for a Scandi garden?

Light, delicate plants define the Scandinavian planting palette: the airy 
birch tree with its pure white stem; the bell-shaped, slender Campanula, and the beautiful Scabiosa, which is a thrill to butterflies and bees, are just some examples. These plants can also be found in the wild. Due to the soft natural light in the Nordics, delicate and small plants with pale colour do very well. Ornamental grasses are excellent for creating framework and naturally blending in any composition, mimicking nature. 

Read the book - New Nordic Gardens:Scandinavian LandscapeDesign by Annika Zetterhman (Thames & Hudson, £25) Photography Annika Zetternan; Anna Staffansson

Follow Annika @zettermangardendesign or visit

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