In the world of design elements, color is king, and the rest are courtiers. This is unfortunate, because to my mind texture is a far more sophisticated prospect, and maybe the one I like to play with most. But have you ever just wanted to rip it all out and start over again? I have, and this is in part because I’m a bit of of a texture-mixing junkie. I may have a bit of a problem.
Here’s the sitch. I’m a sucker for fine texture, mostly leaves, whether it’s grasses, pines, or Amsonia hubrichtii. Alone, it feels peaceful. It’s restful to my eye. Mixed with others, fine-textured elements like grasses make medium-textured elements pop, when they might otherwise fade into the tableau. With bold textures, the simplicity of contrast can be simply spectacular. I know I’ve posted it before, but I like that rhododendron up there 100% more with grasses.
I grow a lot of plants in a relatively small space, for a lot of reasons–I’m a collector, sure, but I like to grow plants so I can speak from experience when I talk about them, and I like to find ways to make them look amazing with their bedfellows. I do believe it’s possible to mix a lot of different plants well in small space, especially by grouping similar textures together (see photo of Phlomis and Rudbeckia at bottom). Some days, though, I long for the simplicity, restfulness, and modernity of simple texture groupings like the one above: Pennisetum with pine, from a hotel where we stayed. Okay, it’s a terrible photo that doesn’t capture how sublime this simple pairing was, but how about the natural tableau at left, a palmetto swamp in the South. Fine-textured foliage above, bold below. The irony is, the longer I garden on this site, the stronger my desire for this kind of simplicity.
I’ve thought a lot lately about how gardens must evolve to fit the changing needs of our lives, interests, experience, and ability to maintain them. My strategy for evolving my garden as I (and it) grow older is to spread out the plants I have into that space, and simplify the texture scheme with larger blocks of fewer plants.
Simplicity, AND still with lots of different kinds of plants… Will I really be able to have it all?
Only time will tell.
Check out what other GDRTers are saying about texture!
Thomas Rainer : Grounded Design : Washington, D.C.
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI
David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Rochelle Greayer : studio “g” : Boston, MA