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Wednesday March 03 , 2021

Blue Daisy Blog

Blue Daisy blog written by Nicki Jackson & Jules Clark - for news, views, garden design, gardening and plant observations and thoughts.

Garden Design Quick Tip: Texture

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echinopsTexture in garden design often refers to the surface quality of the plant and can range from classes known as delicate to coarse.  It is a character element that can be used by itself or with other elements to create a feeling of unity.

Textures appeal to multiple sensory experiences at once. You can often tell what something is going to feel like just by looking at it, but there may be more surprises in store as you explore. Certain forms and surfaces invite touch and the visual and physical effect of a border is heightened when there is great textural contrast because of this ‘invitation’ to interact with the textural plants.

A plant’s texture can also set the mood of a garden; many bold and coarse plants can create a tropical feel, picture ornamental banana plants or Cannas.  If your garden is lacking in texture remember that too many plants with fine textures can create a fuzzy blur, too many bold or rough plants can make it feel claustrophobic.  Think of the ratio 1/3 fine and 2/3 course texture and you usually can’t go too far wrong.  

Remember it’s not just leaves that add texture; a few well placed trees in a garden such as the River Birch (Betula nigra) and the Tibetan Cherry (Prunus serrula ‘Tibetica’) will encourage you and visitors to interact with the garden and touch the tree bark.   

Three plants that are often used to add textural elements to the garden:

  • Hosta - their broad leaves adds weight and drama to any border and is classed as bold.  Being perennials they come back every year so are a good investment, they prefer to grow in part shade to full shade and benefit from dividing every few years.  They do flower in the summer but they are used specifically as a foliage plant, use them to brighten up a shady corner.   Slugs love them so be prepared to either pick off or kill the slugs.  One way to deal with them is to use nematodes a biological control that are safe for animals and children.
  • Cosmos – with its thread-like leaves their texture is classed as fine.   It can be a perennial but the annual variety is a cottage garden favourite; they can grow up to a metre tall and are good as cut flowers too.  They look great planted in drifts and thrive in well drained soil and a sunny aspect.
  • Echinops (main picture) - have a spiny texture.   A thistle like plant that can add a touch of drama and an almost tropical feel.  They are known for their blue or white spherical flower heads that attract lots of different insects.  Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’  will get to around 1m in height and 45cm in width and are happy in full to part sun.

Nicki Jackson is Blue Daisy's garden designer & owner. A former HR consultant Nicki still finds the time to run Blue Daisy, design gardens and planting plans, write a blog, keep our gardening clients happy and offer IIP advice and outplacement support through Blue Daisy Consultancy.

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