GARDEN DESIGN 101 (con’d)

by susan on June 21, 2013

Last week I had written an article, called “Garden Design- 101”, for West Coast Gardens, one of our finest local nurseries, here in the lower mainland of British Columbia, and I had promised to continue by writing more on this subject on my own blog. And so, here is a bit more about how to put plants together to provide interest with texture in the supporting “just green” plants nearby.
As I had said in that other article, the greenery can be quite interesting and by using different colours of just green, you can make the main focus, which is the flower, really stand out.
Below, you can see how this works, as this lovely Rhododendron “Ken Janeck”, although just a simple white colour, is enhanced by the many different greens and textures all around it. The garden path of large basalt stepping stones also leads the eye to this Rhodo. Some of the greens are very ‘blue’, some are lime green and the texture changes from the very tight new spring green of the slow-growing, dwarf, round Spruce on the left, to the very blue-green of one of my favourite Hellebores, Helleborus argutifolius  on the right, almost below the Rhodo.

Rhodo with colourful, supporting greenery.


More spring beauties, below…. if you have an opportunity to grow a Halesia tree, it will give you these very pretty white flowers in May. Nearby, try a large-flowered tree peony, as I have done here. The difference in the flower size is what makes these two plants interesting. Underneath, you might try some Sempervivum, ‘Hen and Chicks’. I have found that they will grow almost anywhere in my gardens that has brightness, but not necessarily full sun. Go on…. push the envelope a bit, and you may find that some plants will grow very well where you least expected!

The very pretty white flowers of the Halesia tree would pair well with a white tree Peony.


My very large-flowered white Peony.


There are many different Sempervivum or 'Hen and Chicks'. These plants grow in many different locations throughout my gardens. Their texture is always appreciated.


Beneath the Halesia tree I have this bright Hosta  below, which I think is Hosta ‘Patriot’. Once again, it picks up on the white colour scheme and has many shades of evergreen to support this whole garden. There are the large, pointy leaves of the Hellebores, which have a blue-green cast to them, and then the new lime-green growth of the Tsuga, (Hemlock) behind the large rock, ( another source of texture in the gardens.)
Hosta 'Patriot'

The bright white and green of this Hosta 'Patriot' emphasizes the white of the Halesia tree above.



Now, if you crave more real colour…. why not try this pink flowering Kalmia latifolia, (Mountain Laurel) below? This is such an underused plant, and it is really a shame because it is just so great! I have only seen one growing in a client’s garden. It was a mature specimen and was very lovely! The Kalmia will take more sun than the Rhododendrons, it is evergreen and it blooms a long time. It does require excellent drainage, and some moisture. Also, there are so many different flower ‘textures’ and the plants range from the dwarf sizes to much larger. I highly recommend this shrub.

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel) is an underused but very desirable shrub. It provides early colour and the flowers last a very long time.

Close-up of Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)

All of the simply green plants set off the brightness of this pink Kalmia and help to bring your eye right to this little ‘garden gem’. Notice the textures… the very broad, round and shiny leaves of the evergreen Bergenia at the bottom, and the different plays of the many shades of blue-green plants in this garden.
Next year I intend to add one of these Kalmia to the garden where this mature Rhododendron lives. I think that the two colours go so well together.

A similarly coloured Rhododendron.


And, finally, I have decided to add these last two combinations…
This first one combines several different textures, from the spike-y, and very sharp Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’, (Blue Star Juniper) to the very lined and large blue leaf of this Hosta, below. (Even the leaves of this little rose definitely have a blue-green cast to them.) This lily is called ‘Lollipop’ and I have it planted right behind the white rose, as I do like to see the harmonious combination of the deep pink with the pale pink of this rose bud. If you do want to see interesting combinations in your own gardens, you must consider bloom times, of course.

Lily 'Lollipop' with a pink-budded white rose. Notice the many differnt 'blue' textures in the supporting greenery.

 And, then here is another of my favourite colour combos…. blue, green and white. This is one of my newest Japanese Irises. I think the lines are amazing! Here it is placed in front of a Fatshedera, which is a combination of two plants, Hedera helix, (Ivy) and Fatsia (Japanese aralia).

Look at those lines!! Wow! What a beauty... These Japanese Irises always amaze me. Note the complementary blue of the Ceanothus (California Lilac) to the right.

 And, to the right is one of my newer plants, the very cool Ceanothus griseus ‘Victoria’ (California Lilac). The blues of these two plants are just about perfect. The Iris has these really beautiful lines, and the Ceanothus is very round – such a nice contrast!

Well, that’s about it for now…. hope you have a few new ideas for your own gardens. Check in again, soon, and I’ll definitely have more photos and ideas to share from my own garden spaces.










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