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Monday April 19 , 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 - Man Made Texture

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20150720-111210Good use of texture in the garden is often the thing that brings that final touch of finesse to your design – it is a key tool for designers in creating visual excitement and emotional response when viewing a garden, and often a key element in achieving a good textural tapestry is the planting.  

But while plant shape (form); colour; leaf size, shape and texture; along with positioning all combine texturally, plants alone don’t always create the ‘whole’ textural picture in a garden – it is often the man-made things that we put with them that add to the mix and creates the fuller view.  Think patios, pathways, containers, structures, sculptures, etc – these elements can all add harmony, impact and depth to the textural scene.

Along with function and form, the texture of these man-made elements help define the feel and visual impact of a garden, for instance, if you want a contemporary space then smooth, sleek surfaces with sharp edges add that touch of ‘precision’ that many contemporary gardens exhibit. Conversely if you long for a more relaxed, cottage garden style then reclaimed brick, cobbles or rivened finishes lend themselves well here.  

Take our main image as an example.  This pathway adds to the woodland feel of the space and complements the textural elements of the planting.  A sleek, smooth, paved pathway would jar in this setting and whilst contrast can be good in the right place, in this particular instance it wouldn’t have worked.  The nooks and crannies of the surface allows for a more naturalistic look providing purchase for colonising mosses, etc while the colour of the natural stone blends with the muted palette of the plants.  Texturally the ‘whole’ is a harmonious one.

smooth-garden-texturesThe much more formal garden in our second image, on the other hand, wouldn’t be able to carry off the heavily textured pathway of the previous example and instead requires the clean lines and smooth finishes of highly sanded natural wood and smooth-rendered walls in order to achieve its sense of harmony.  The small leaves and habit of the Buxus sempervirens (the box balls) adds density, creating a solid look that again creates a more textured, but still clean-lined look to them. The wispy ferns add textural contrast to the smoothness whilst still mirroring the repeating ‘lines’ within the design.  

Whether it’s man-made elements or plants the same textural rules apply – put things together based on form, colour, size, shape, texture, position and mix things up a little in order to create visual interest.  There’s no right or wrong but try to be considered in how you mix things up.  Too much similarity of texture can result in a bland, uninteresting space but too much contrast can become an assault to the senses.  

The key to using any textural element in the garden is to try to always keep the ‘whole’ picture in your mind when adding things.  If you can do that then everything you add will then bring something to the plan, and add value to it, resulting in a more harmonious feel.  As Vita Sackville West, the famous poet and Sissinghurst garden designer once said “It isn't that I don't like sweet disorder, but it has to be judiciously arranged.” The trick to texture is getting the ‘judicial arrangement’ right for your own space.


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