Monday, July 30, 2012

Combining Plant Textures in the Garden

When people think of designing their garden, they usually think of size and colour first: how big is the plant going to become? What colour will it be in summer? in autumn?
Then they attempt to place the different plants into beds using the design concepts of proportion, order and repetition.
It's easy to forget about or ignore texture but this element is also very important.

Texture refers to the surface quality of a plant. Plant textures range from fine to medium to coarse. Most plants have a medium texture so it's a great idea to combine medium with fine and coarse. This adds interest as well as achieves an atmosphere of calm relaxation or of drama.

Feather Reed grass 'Karl Foerster" has 2 types of texture: the sharp, vertical stalk and the fluffy soft plumes.

An article from Landscape Ontario says that "…the easiest way to assess the amount of contrast in the texture of the garden is to imagine a black and white photo of the area. The removal of colour helps to focus attention on the size and shape of the foliage and woody components beyond the appeal of their overall form and colour."

I tried this and it works!! Compare above and below. Look how the sharp needles of the mugo pine contrast with the thick, rounded leaves of the Sedum and the long, thin foliage of the Miscanthus grass and the Pennisetum.

Below is a good example of varying textures: the droopy Miscanthus foliage, the curvy crunchy leaves of Kale, the delicate small leaves of periwinkle and lamium. Sedum 'Autumn Joy' peeks out from the back.

Here's another shot of the same area, when the Sedum flowers have turned pink and the Pennisitum has feathery plumes.

This is a close-up of Sedum 'Autumn Joy'….

…and Sedum with grasses and Mugo Pine.

Above is a good example of combined textures: a sleek purple Siberian Iris on a long thin stalk is directly in front of a sharp needled Weeping Norway Spruce. And beside it is a coarse-leaved blue Hosta.

The Queen of textures is probably a cactus!!

When I was on this garden tour, the home owner had combined large heart-shaped Hosta leaves with smaller triangular ones. A tiny tiny spiky Hosta, the miniature 'Pandora's Box' is the focal point. The blue geranium alongside provides another type of texture as well as colour.

Many textures are to be found in the photo above: coarse (Hosta) fine (Euonymus) and very fine (evergreen).

Viburnum 'Mariesii', with its drooping horizontal branches and flowers runs right into fine, grass-like daylily leaves.

 Coarse plus 2 types of fine texture: thick leaved blue Hosta with a geranium and Painted Japanese Fern.

Indoor plant Caladium does just fine in containers in northern climates. Its colourful leaves are its own source of texture.

Feathery white Astilbe 'Deutchland' flowers beside smooth, velvety begonia blossoms.

Add a bit of hardscaping (cement pot and statue) to frothy ferns, Japanese Golden grass and soft leaf Helichrysum and you create a dramatic but harmonious area in the garden.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award!!

Early this year, I joined a garden blogger's website called Blotanical. I was immediately welcomed by some very sincere, very talented garden bloggers whose blogs are now an auto-read for me.
One of these wonderful gardeners is Helene Taylor who lives in England. Her garden shines like a small, precious jewel. Helene battles numerous health problems but you would never guess that, judging by her well kept-up garden full of exquisite, beautiful plants. Bookmark her blog - it will soon become one of your favourites too!
It is an honour that Helene nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award! Thank you so much Helene!! I have been trying to improve my blog layout and photos and I guess she feels this has paid off! I now have another wonderful award to add to my credit.

The rules for the One Lovely Blog award are:

a) Thank the nominator and link to his/her site

b) Share 7 things about yourself

c) Nominate up to 10 other bloggers for the award

Here are 7 things you never knew about me:

1. My birthday is on the cusp of Taurus/Gemini, making me a stubborn dual-personality!

2. I just watched the movie Tangled with my granddaughter. I think I enjoyed the jokes and slapstick humour more than she did!!

3. On Pinterest, I have 43 Boards and have pinned (and repinned) a total of 3,513 items. A friend recently commented: "...Clearly you are retired" :)……..The link to my boards is on my Homepage.

4. I successfully baked and assembled a Gateau St. Honore for my Dad's 80th birthday!

5. I shoot pictures for my blog using a previously-owned Nikon D40

6. I hate tuna: fresh, grilled, canned and sushimi

7. I am obsessed with the Game of Thrones. I have watched both seasons on HBO and am now halfway through Book 3 Storm of Swords. I ADORE Arya, Tyrion and Jon Snow. I DETEST Joffrey and Theon (therefore both author and the series have portrayed them well, if they can elicit this type of emotion from me!)

I follow a number of very interesting blogs. Some of the bloggers have already received this award (and deservedly so) therefore:

I nominate the following blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award:

Jennifer at

Nadezda at

Cristina at

Melissa Clark at

Donald at

Lee at

Kate at

Jean at

Jeff at

So there you have it! 7 random things you never knew about me and a whole list of new, wonderful, LOVELY blogs to start following!!

(My only regret is that Blogger says I have "…exceeded my photo upload quota" and therefore will not be able to post the picture of the One Lovely Blog award on my right nav :(

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Novice Tomato Gardener

As you may have guessed by now, vegetable gardening is waaaay down the list of priorities at my place. My true loves are flowers and garden design but I grow a few herbs for cooking and this year I decided to try tomatoes again.
My yard is very deep - 100' from the back of the house to the back fence. When we first moved in 25 years ago, we built 2 raised beds for tomatoes. Over the years, growing tomatoes became a tiresome hassle, having to lug water to the back forty after work. My tomatoes were always "Poorest in Show" among my family.
This year when my Dad offered (once again) to grow tomatoes from seed for all of us, I joined in. I signed up for beefsteaks and cherry tomatoes. Being retired, I thought I would be able to devote more time to them.
I read up on how best to stake tomatoes and one YouTube video showed tying strings horizontally between 2 strong posts.
Well, my strings were just twine (duh!) so of course now that the tomatoes are growing and getting big and heavy, they were sagging and falling over.
Last evening, my hubby took 2 old long tree branches that have been at the side of the house and nailed them onto very strong posts.
This morning I tied all the droopy branches to their new supports and let me announce to my Dad, sister, son and nephew: the Competition is ON!! (Poorest in Show - indeed!!!)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Daylilies in the spotlight

While we were on a 2 week vacation, I was wondering what had bloomed and what would be blooming when I got home. Well - the most prolific are the daylilies!!
The one above is a tetraploid that I've had for years - so glad it hasn't converted into a mediocre orange "ditch" lily (that happens sometimes…)

As I walked around the garden, I discovered a number of them blooming…

Here's another original from 25 years ago: 'Whimsical'

'Mateus' is a dainty striped beauty

My Dad gave me this one but I have lost the tag :(

'Jay' is almost burgundy in real life but photographs dark red

I have many Sweet Williams scattered throughout the yard

Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon flower) is at its peak

Achillea 'Coronation Gold' are a strong yellow atop sturdy stems

Helenium (Sneezeweed) is like a yellow daisy

If you trim back Spirea 'Anthony Waterer' after blooming, it will bloom again in the fall!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Colour in the garden

Most gardeners do not consider themselves artists. But with a little help from Mother Nature, they certainly are artists! Just look at the colours that occur in the garden either by (happy!) chance or by plan.

Above is Artemesia 'Silver King' with the red climbing rose 'Blaze'. Pale gray is a terrific neutral colour  to have in a perennial bed - it enhances the colours right next to it and makes them much brighter.

Here Silver King is paired with the pale pink polyantha rose 'The Fairy'

The gray of Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina) brings up the multi-coloured pinks of Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)

Some gardeners prefer soft pastels but hot colours like red and yellow together make a bold statement. Here is red Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica) beside Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata)

On the other side of the garden, Maltese Cross stands out well with yellow Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

When these deep purple petunias fill out over the summer, they will be a perfect dark spot between the different hostas surrounding them

On a walk through the garden last evening, I noticed an unexpected shot of hot pink peeking out through the pussywillow bushes

 It was the clematis I had purposely planted in there to wind its way through the branches but (typical me) had forgotten about it until now when it bloomed :)

Annuals play a very important role in the garden - the intensity of their colours are a joy to behold. For example a very deep dark purple petunia with white and blue Lobelia.

Colour echoes blend well in a garden: the spotty pink in the Caladium is echoed in the much deeper pink of the Rex Begonia

Even NEON colours have their place: hot pink Wave Petunia is paired with lime green Potato Vine.