There are ten books I seem to turn to, time and time again, when considering the design of my garden, starting with…
Gardening with Shape, Line and Texture: A Plant Design Sourcebook by Linden Hawthorne. Linden encourages us to think about the golden ratio and other artistic devices when choosing and placing plants in our gardens… no matter how large or small… and to incorporate the following elements: scale, visual and environmental harmony, texture and contrast, rhythm and repetition, and then finally foliage and bloom color.
She divides plants into five general categories.
Horizontals and Tiers provide stability to the garden and are comparable to the foreground of a painting. Examples of Horizontals and Tiers come in all heights. They may hug the ground like Cerastium tomentosum (Snow-in-Summer) and Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox) or serve as ornamental trees like Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda Dogwood) and Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Shasta' (Shasta Viburnum). But they all reinforce the horizon line.
|Even this Cornus florida has a strong tiered quality.|
|Iris at a local nursery show off their exciting, blade-like leaves.|
Clumps and Mounds form the greatest mass and visual weight in the landscape and include a lot of our tried-and-true foliage: Buxus (Boxwood) and Kalmia latifolia (Laurel), Hosta and Heuchera (Coral Bells), Lavandula (Lavender) and Santolina (Cotton Lavender). Even though many of these plants bloom, we tend to value them for their dense, rounded shapes.
And finally Clouds and Transparents are the most ephemeral and decorative plants in the garden. Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower), Aquilegia (Columbine), Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel) and Anethum graveolens (Dill) all possess fairly discreet, ferny, feathery leaves and almost-gauzy flowers on tall, delicate stems. Clouds and Transparents seem to capture sunlight and movement in their own magical haze, which is emphasized by the frequent visits of bees and butterflies.
|The massive Hosta 'Sum and Substance' grows to almost 4' across.|
The purple lanterns of Aquigelia vulgaris lighten the green tableau.