Buying plants and digging in the dirt is the easy part. The time-consuming part has been deciding which plants. Our front yard is a blank slate, and I’ve spent considerable hours reading about Aus/Tas natives, among others, and determining whether they’ll like my yard. Size, light and soil requirements are what’s kept the list manageable, but the visual elements have left me hemming and hawing over my options.
However! It doesn’t have to be so exacting that you can feel your brain turning inside out. Plants play nicely with one another in general – thanks, nature. I’ve just been keeping some basic elements of design in the back of my mind: size, shape, texture, colour, repetition, unity.
Size. how big does everything get? Will plants crowd out one another once they reach full size?
Shape. Conical, round, standard, compact, weeping, ferny?
Texture. Feathery, spiky, glossy, leafy?
Colour. Will there be a colour scheme – warm, cool, complementary…?
Repetition. Repeating forms, textures, colours, whether in mixed plantings or mass plantings.
Unity. The sense of a coherent whole, often helped along by repetition.
(via Kim Pearson)
I’ve been choosing plants based on interesting foliage rather than spectacular flowers. The arrangement won’t be as showy in spring-summer, but it’ll still look good then and it’ll continue to look good throughout the cooler months. Australian natives, as well as other temperate southern-hemisphere plants, have some pretty neat textures. In particular, strap-leaf plants and leucadendrons have bright, unusually-coloured foliage in reds, pinks, yellows and purples.
Lomatia tinctoria – guitar plant / Grevillea ‘Fireworks’ / Aulax cancellata – channel-leaf featherbush
Calytrix tetragona – fringe-myrtle / Phormium tenax ‘Dark Delight’ / Acacia cognata ‘Limelight’
Close-up shots of what I’ve planted and their textures. Lots of finer-leaved plants, no broadleaf plants. None of them are prickly; that was one of my top considerations! The aulax and acacia are particularly soft to the touch.
As for sizes and shapes, I’ve been testing them out in 3D. To be precise, in Sweet Home 3D, which is basically an offline version of Floorplanner. It’s easy to use and to change the given perspective. Using a modelling program makes me feel like I am way over-thinking every lousy row of hedges, but it doesn’t take long to pop them in and figure out how the sizes relate to one another and how many plants you need.
Again, here’s how that front hedge looks in person. It looks underwhelming and dinky right now, so I can’t wait to see how they look when fully grown. (It’ll also look better with edging and a new wall, but shhhh.)
I’m still figuring out gardening, but one thing I can bring to my yard is a solid understanding of colour. (Or C-O-L-O-R, as it’s been my whole life and in my heart of hearts.) So I thought I’d put together a quick palette to see how everything would work together.
The foliage sits in a triad. Lots of green, of course, broken up by purple (flax) and orange-red (aulax). The flowers come in warm tones – reds, yellows, pinks – and they don’t all appear at once.
(via Brendan Moar)
Chilled out space, huh? The foliage here is an analogous mix of greens, blues and purples. They blend and harmonise well.
And again, back to our sad yard. One more look at the hedge. All those miniature lil’ baby plants.
And here’s a “render” of what my yard could maybe look like. I’m posting this rather than a shot from the 3D program because the 3D Warehouse selections look even less like the real plants. I could learn something more professional and make my own, but what am I, a wizard? Also, I like drawing.
Am I overthinking all this? It feels like I’m overthinking this.