Choosing Plants By Working Together

April 3, 2019 By Wendy Palma In Garden Plants

Gardens are like buildings in that they are capable of expressing a pleasing harmony, a balanced symmetry of design which is altogether gratifying. Walk around any garden which combines agreeable plant affiliation with attractive design and find out what an enjoyable experience it is, for beauty, indeed, sweeps out all that is trivial. The appeal is not in any way due to the extravagant use of color to produce a garish or startling effect. Rather it relies on artistry, subtle gradations of leaf, shade and shape, with flowers as the embellishment and not the principal factor.

Fanciful though it may seem, plants do express a personality. There are those of such a demanding presence that all the planting within their area of influence must be complementary, not competitive. Beautiful though the carpet of yellow is under a summer sun, it lacks the lyric quality of a Magnolia so carefully sited that its deep rose-pink flowers are seen framed against no other background than the blue and white of a March sky.

Though it is not difficult in gardening, as in painting, to achieve the sort of impact which brings gasps of astonishment from all who see it.

A broad sweep of lawn in front of the house carried the eye across to a weeping beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Pendula’ like a 20ft (6m) high mushroom growing out of the bright-green grass. A bed filled with scarlet-flowered ‘Evelyn Fison’ roses linked the beech to a magnificent blue cedar, Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’. Without the emphatic contribution made by the scarlet-flowered rose, the beauty of the landscape would have been much reduced.

A large book full of poetry and curious learning might be written about the association of flowers; and there are few of us, at least among those who care much for flowers, who can think of them apart from their associations. Thus we naturally associate the most beautiful of our native wildflowers with hills, vales and open countryside.

The above is one interpretation of association which is concerned more with connection in thought. Join the two interpretations together, including with the evocative quality an approach to, and insistence on, color harmony, and there is still the matter of shape, texture, and foliage pattern. Plant relationship might be a better description.

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