Friday, January 30, 2009

Plants as Architecture

The architecture of plants is beautiful.

The regular rythym of an allee beckons us to move forward at a steady pace.

Plants have so many uses! Some people treat plants as architecture. They can become houses.

They can be used to create walls.

Photo by Loren

Plants can provide doorways ...

Photo by Goobertron

and gateways.

We walk on plants as flooring.

Plants can be used to create the effect of a ceiling ...

Photo by wallyg

or canapy overhead.

And they can also be sculptural, like art ...

... and given life-like qualities.

Why do we do this? Because we can.

Plants can even become furniture ...

Plants are a living medium that can become whatever the designer imagines or envisions them to be.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Color in the Garden

Color is a powerful tool when it comes to garden design.

It can be seasonal.

Photo by Gigapic

Or sculptural.

Photo by foggy morning

Gardens are all about color.

Photo by Cheryl Pedemonti

If we can learn how to use color (or not use it) than we can effectively design with color to reinforce our overall design intentions or concept.

Photo by Brenda Anderson

Here are the basics. First, we have the color wheel.

Red, Blue and Yellow are the Primary Colors.

Violet, Orange and Green are the Secondary Colors.

You get Secondary colors by mixing two primary colors together:

Red + Blue = Violet
Blue + Yellow = Green
Yellow + Red = Orange

Complimentary Colors are those colors that are opposite colors on the color wheel. They compliment each other perfectly and provide the most contrast for each other. When combined in a planting, they create high energy and gain the most interest. Complimentary colors are Purple + Yellow ...

Red + Green ...

Photo by littlegemtrees

...and Orange + Blue.

Analogous Colors are those colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. They are similar and go together well, but do not offer the most contrast. They are harmonious colors and create low energy in the garden.

There are warm analogous colors...

Photo by nor certitude

and cool ones ...

Photo by Dog of the Forest

The Warm Colors are Red, Yellow and Orange. They are the loud and bold colors! They appear to advance or jump out at you. Have you ever noticed how when looking at a photograph your eye will see the red color first?

Photo by Perry W 1958

If you want to feature something such as a sculpture, entry way or fountain, put warm or hot-colored plants adjacent to the object you want to feature. The viewer's eye will immediately be drawn to that object.

Photo by serialplantfetishist

In garden design, the warm colors will make a large space appear smaller.

Photo by Carl's Bits of Nature

When used in the background, foreground objects appear larger by contrast.

Photo by Wooby 1950

Photo by Mark Fountain52

When used en masse, objects advance toward the viewer.

Photo by Tom Archibald

Warm colors can make objects seem larger and spaces feel smaller. They also create high energy.

Photo by bratjerm

The Cool Colors are Violet, Blue and Green. These colors appear to recede or fade away in the garden. They are the pastels and paler colors and they are low energy and relaxing colors. This photo of the Chanticleer Gardens in Pennsylvania shows good use of cool colors.

Photo by bbbenchetrit

Cool colors can make a small space feel larger.

Photo by Cheryl Pedemonti

When used in the background, cool colors have little impact on the foreground.

Photo by iYaKuu

They can make objects feel smaller or appear farther away.

Photo by Jacki Dee

Value is the lightness or darkness of the color. Variations in value are used to create a focal point for the design. The greater the contrast in value, the greater the impact the planting will have.

Photo by jangosmum

In garden design, contrast is good if you want to call attention to something.

Photo by Barton's Greenhouse & Nursery, Inc.

Hue is the saturation of color. Primary colors are pure hue. Intensity is the purity of color or amount of pigment.

Color should please the artist and be appropriate for the purpose.

Lynne Tansey

It should also possess unity and offer variety of interest.

Photo by Lauren Wayman

Photo by Goobertron

Color can and should be used as linkage in the garden to link two or more spaces together.

Photo by Crazy.wolf

It is just one of the threads that can tie the whole design together, thus creating harmony.

Photo by lancasteruk

And unity and harmony should be the goal of every garden designer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Desert Island Plant Challenge

Here is a fun challenge from shirls gardenwatch. Shirl asks the question, "If I was stranded on a desert island, what three plants would I take if there were no limits to growing conditions whatsoever."

For some, this might be an easy question to answer. However, for the serious gardener, it is extremely difficult! Please play along with us and list your three plants in the "Comments" section of this post.

Here are my choices. First, I'd want a substantial shade tree that could provide ample shelter and shade. It would have to be a Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). Do you remember the tree that Forest and Jenny used as their special place in the movie Forest Gump? The same tree where Forest buried her under? That was a Southern Live Oak. Here are some pictures of some very old Live Oaks:

Photo by Tri Poodle

Photo by msmail

The Southern Live Oak is evergreen and provides very dense shade. The two trees in these photographs most likely are over 200 years old! I think the Live Oak would provide so much shade and shelter, that I could live very comfortably underneath it on any island!

The next plant I would elect to take with me would have to bring me great joy in its beauty. Therefore, I would pick a Tropicana Canna Lily (Canna sp. 'Tropicana'). They are big, bold and stunning to behold! In pots, they are even sculptural!

Photo by brier399

These canna lilys can grow as tall as six feet in height and have a brilliant orange flower. The leaves are striped and very exotic. A bold colorful touch to any garden, they command attention and are surely the stars of the show!

The next plant I would pick would be this ...

This is the Red Volunteer Daylily (Hemerocallis sp. 'Red Volunteer'). To me, this is one of the greatest perennials going! With it's bright red color and hardy disposition, this plant is the Scarlett O'Hara of the plant world! It is tall for a daylily -- 36" in height -- and is extremely tough, seeming to do well in almost any garden soil. It has a very long bloom time for daylilys, as well. I absolutely love it's bright red flowers that can grow as wide as seven or eight inches across.

I have two runner's up as well. I would have to smuggle these plants in somehow to my little desert island. First runner up is the Sango Kaku Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'). With it's bright red bark and brilliant yellow fall foliage, this is a tree for all seasons!

Second runner-up is the Bog Lily (Crinum americanum). It has a lovely perfumed fragrance and big beautiful strap-like foliage. I'll take a big clump of these in any garden I have!

So there you have it. If I had to pick three plants to take with me on a deserted island, these would be my choices. What are yours?