by Rick Vuyst
Planning to do some planting this spring? There is an old military adage that states, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” In your garden the enemy can be when a plant is placed in the wrong spot: limited space to grow, not enough shade or sun, poor air circulation or soil that won’t encourage good root growth. In these conditions, the plant can weaken, making it subject to attack from disease, exposure and insects. Take the time to determine what the projected size of the plant is going to be. This applies to any plant, from vegetables in your garden, the flowers for a container to the tree planted near your house or the houseplant hanging out in your living room corner.
Diversity is vital to creating an eye-catching landscape. Mix large-leafed plants with smaller leaves; long grass-like foliage with plants of horizontal habit; foundational evergreens with showy deciduous plants; woody plants with rough-textured foliage with smooth broad leaves. As your eye scans the landscape, it can rest on points of interest as opposed to a mishmash of similar sizes and shapes.
Good plant combinations include these elements:
• Different growth habits (upright, pendula, filler, spreading, etc.)
• Various textures (glossy, ribbed, soft, leathery, evergreen, etc.)
• A range of leaf sizes: (narrow, wide, small, large, elongated, etc.)
• Drifts or odd numbers.
• Good use of color.
• A mix of abundance and excess, allowing the eye a place to land.
Complementary colors such as blue and yellow, play against each other for dramatic vibrancy. Two equal amounts of complementary colors create an exciting tension. You can soften the tension by having one less dominant in scope than the other to complement their colorful arrangement.
For those looking to create a monochromatic color scheme in their garden, choose plants from a single color family in various shades.
Bright colors such as red, yellow and orange, make spaces appear smaller, while dark colors like blue and purple create a calming, spacious atmosphere. Pink plays well with almost any other color in a landscape. For those who desire the unexpected from their garden, a polychromatic mix of all colors is like the grand finale in a fireworks show.
Finally, neutrals such as green, chartreuse, silver, white, brown and black bring out of other colors by being the canvas against which they are measured. Green provides support to other colors while white brightens dark shades. Brown helps colors appear well grounded and black makes them more mysterious and sultry.