Here is a garden I designed and installed for a client in Ridgewood. Their desire was to have a natural, meadow/butterfly garden with very little space between plants and to allow it to reseed where it may. It remains to be seen whether they will stick with that plan or manage it a bit more than that.
Also on the must have list was a Japanese garden, Zen space, butterfly garden, native plant garden, a water feature, and sitting area. Often a client likes a lot of different styles and it is my job to design something that suits the site and covers as many of their desires as possible. Here I divided the space (the sun pattern divided it for me) into a full sun, meadow side and a shade garden side. The shade was the logical spot for a comfortable sitting area. I also included a small sitting area at the back of the sun side for colder days and a different perspective in which to view the butterflies and birds visiting the flowering plants.
The perennial varieties used here (many native) are planted not in big groups like a traditional perennial garden, but in meadow style which repeats the varieties in a random pattern. The pattern is not haphazard, but thought out according to height, light, and where the plants would be viewed from the most. There is something blooming, fruiting and or seeding in every season.
The shrub selection is mostly native, chosen for flowers, berries and benefits to birds.
The water feature had to match the homeowners time and willingness for maintenance. Here I was able to get in a Japanese element with a water bowl and bamboo spout, for moving water. I sited the water bowl next to the patio, amongst a large bed of Hakone grass for a calm restful spot to offset the jumble going on in the sun. An entire garden of meadow style would be too much for a residential property.