Design the bones of your garden
By: Garden Gate staff
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When designing your garden, you’ll want to start with great structure plants to create a backdrop and offer a sense of permanence no matter what season you’re in. Click through the following images to see a few ways to do that.
While colorful blooms come and go throughout the season, an evergreen backdrop provides constant interest. Evergreens grow in a range of habits from pyramidal to globe-shaped. Plus, there are many that are simple to cut into the shape you want, such as the boxwoods (Buxus spp. and hybrids) and yews (Taxus spp. and hybrids) in this photo. Planted close enough together, boxwoods grow to form a hedge, just like you see here. Keeping it tightly clipped draws the eye quickly along the walkway beside it, leading right to the door. This low border also serves as a frame for what grows beyond it. The squared shape and dense, rounded mounds create repetition and symmetry in a garden that mixes several types of plants.
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Winter can be a long, difficult season. Perennials have gone dormant, and much of the color in the yard has vanished. Though deciduous shrubs and trees have dropped their leaves, fully exposing the garden’s bones, there doesn’t have to be a lack of interest.
In this photo, weeping and upright branches still add shape, even without their leaves. And redtwig dogwood (Cornus alba) draws attention with bright, colorful bark, working like an exclamation point in the landscape.
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Build even more interest with the bones of your garden when you focus on shape and color, like you see here. Alone, the tight pyramid of the juniper (Juniperus chinensis) is eye-catching. Surrounded by softer, airy vase-shaped ornamental grass, like maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis), however, the dense evergreen becomes an especially striking focal point.
A sweep of bright red Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica) provides balance to the variety of cool green hues. The cream-variegated leaves of weigela (Weigela florida) help brighten the border, too.
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The texture and shape in this garden don’t just come from plants. The well-spaced boulders add unique contrast with their texture, form and even color. While their shape echoes other low-growing mounds in the yard, the boulders’ smooth surface and neutral hue provide resting places for the eye as it scans the garden.