Designing with flower shape in mind
There are so many things to think about when designing a garden that it can be overwhelming, sometimes even intimidating. So if you’re wondering how to begin choosing your plants, start with flower shape.
Flowers come in all kinds of shapes, from simple daisies to sophisticated lilies. And while color is often the first thing that comes to mind, flower shape also helps set a mood and is an important element in garden design. To get just the effect you want, you need to know the eight categories of shapes. Then we’ll discuss some more design tips and help you find the right flower for the shape you need with our chart below.
A variety of flower shapes for your garden
Flathead flowers have a horizontal shape that gives the eye a place to rest and has a down-to-earth feel.
Daises are the flower shape to choose for a simple, natural look.
Trumpets are strong, attention getting flower shapes and can be used as a focal point in the garden.
Cup flowers are simpler than trumpet flowers and lend a more casual feel.
Plumes bring a playful mood with fuzzy flowers. Plumes make a good transition shape between spikes and flatheads.
Globes’ unusual shape stands out. Use them as accents or focal points.
Fillers provide a good-looking backdrop and fill in bare spots.
Clusters of flowers provide some weight to a design. Loose clusters make good transitions between different shapes because of their indistinct form.
Spike flowers are great attention getters that add height to your garden design.
Tips for combining flower shapes
1. Repeat shapes for unity
Planting a lot of different shapes will keep your eye moving throughout the entire garden. This makes it more interesting to look at — your eye keeps seeking the next shape. On the other hand, too much contrast can create a confusing jumble. Remedy the situation by repeating a shape to provide a sense of unity. Even a wild color combo like pink and orange, for example, can be unified if you keep your flower shapes simple. Pair hot-pink zinnias with flame-orange Mexican sunflowers and you have a combination that sizzles yet still looks tied together because they’re both daisy shaped.
2. Use a variety
To keep a monochromatic garden from becoming bland, use a variety of shapes. You could never call a garden of spider flower, Asiatic lilies and delphiniums boring — even if they were all white!
3. Show off a specimen plant
Choosing the right shape combination can really show off a speciman plant. For example, if you want to spotlight a favorite lily, plant it with a filler like baby’s breath, which isn’t such an eye-catching shape, to make the lily the star.
4. Think about the seedheads
Don’t forget — flowers change with the seasons. Take advantage of the shapes of seedheads and blooms, like coneflowers, that dry out on the stem to add year-round interest to your garden.
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Flowers of every shape
Here’s an alphabetical list of flowers and their shapes to help you mix and match and create your own combinations. Enjoy!
Anemone x hybrida
|New England aster
|Joe pye weed
|Showy stonecrop Sedum spectabile
|Sneezeweed Helenium autumnale
|Morning glory Ipomoea tricolor
|Peony Paeonia hybrids
|Meadowsweet Filipendula purpurea
|Queen of the Prairie
|Jewels of Opar
Tradescantia andersonia group