I am someone who loves the vibrant colours, the variety and the interest that perennial and annual flowers provide in the residential landscape. However, it’s also important to make sure that the underlying design of that landscape is sound. Because at some point the flowers are finished, and you still want that backyard or front yard to look wonderful throughout the rest of the year.
There must be a mixture of trees and shrubs that provide the ‘bones’ of the landscape. They give privacy, draw the eye to a focal point, away from an eyesore, add vertical interest, and provide a backdrop to the showier plants that are in the forefront of the landscape. These plants that are close to the walkways, the patios, the entrances, the pools; these are the ones that you see in greater detail. These are the plants that must look good all season long. These are the plants that have to have ‘more’ than some nice flowers.
These plants need to have colour and texture in the leaves. This is one of the reasons that variegated foliage and plants with burgundy or gold or blue leaf colour are so popular. They add interest throughout the entire season, and provide contrast and add depth to the planting beds. As well as interesting colour, plants with differing textures are also important. A very delicate cutleaf plant, will look all the more impressive and noticeable if it is placed next to a plant with a large, bold leaf. Think of the startling blue of a large Hosta leaf, next to the finely serrated deep green of an Astilbe. Both plants stand out and create interest from early spring to late fall. Of course, both have nice blooms at some point, which is even better!
We can also do this contrast with texture with the trees and shrubs, to ensure we get added interest and contrast throughout the season. Coloured bark such as that in Birch trees and Dogwood shrubs, and the delicate or bold branching style of the different shrubs help to ensure that there is something to look at during the winter months as well.
Keeping all these points in mind will add to the depth and complexity of your landscape planting. It will highlight the focal points in your design and help to ensure that you get the maximum amount of enjoyment as you look out on your personal and private outdoor living space.