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Thursday January 21 , 2021

Blue Daisy Blog

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

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Focal Points - Lines and Frames

Posted by on in Garden Design

focal point - leading lines

Focal points are brilliant tools for bringing your garden ‘into focus’ – focal points add context to a garden.  By giving a viewer something distinct to look at, it somehow manages to bring the setting around it – the wider garden – into focus too.  

Focal points work best when there is a clear line of sight to them; by clearing the way of any other distractions the viewer’s eye is inexorably drawn to the focal point at ‘the end of the line’.  The focal point can be anything – an urn, a bench, a plant, a sculpture, etc but it needs to be distinct enough from its surroundings to hold the attention of the viewer for a while once their gaze reaches it.  It’s that ‘pause’ of attention that then allows the focal point’s surroundings to then be thrown into focus too.

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Colour - The Benefits of Blue

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echinops ritro veitch's blueDid you know that blue is a fantastic colour to use in the garden because it's so versatile? It has a recessive quality to it which some people may find ambiguous but it is that exact quality that makes it such a useful colour to use in a garden design.  Simply by receding, it can be used to blend other colours together in planting; or to create an illusion of depth be that in planting or within the landscaping materials; it also has an ability to pick up the mood of its neighbouring plants too.

Blue can add depth and space to a garden so it’s a great colour to use at the back of a border to make it seem like the vista is extending even further.  There are so many different hues and tones of colours but pale blue for example, can add lightness through intense saturated hues – think of cornflowers on a hot-summers day!  

It also works really well in shady areas as it picks up the light and this colour is well known for creating calm, restful and contemplative spaces.  So with that in mind it’s really important to use the right colour in your garden to obtain the right feel and ambience that you are trying to create.

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Repetition through Form

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repetition-formRepetition is one of those key elements of garden design that helps achieve that goal of unity in a garden.  Whilst unity is the harmonisation of the whole, repetition is a part of unity, and there are many ways of using repetition in a garden design. A while back we briefly looked at using repeat planting in a way that ‘steadies’ the planting plan and helps each area relate to another by adding harmony to the borders.  In that example we were repeating specific plants but this time around we wanted to widen the scope and application of repetition to include form too. 

In garden design, ‘form’ generally refers to the visible shape or configuration of something and often it is the plants that non-garden designers tend to think about in terms of form – tall plants, wide plants, bushy but compact plants, etc.  While plants are a major tool in achieving repetition when you widen the scope to include other elements in the garden too, that is when you can really start to see the possibilities for repetition; and consequently for better unity in your garden design too. 

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Using plants for texture

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Fatsia-285Previously we have looked at what texture is in garden design (Garden Design Quick Tip: Texture) i.e. often relating to the surface appearance and feel of a plant – usually ranging from delicate to coarse. Remember to try to think of it as a character element that can be used by itself or with other elements to create a feeling of unity.

We love creating texture in the garden because it appeals to many senses at once.  You can often tell what something is going to feel like just by looking at it - think of Stachys byzantina also known as ‘lambs ears’ where the leaves have that soft woolly texture and Stipa tenuissima (feather grass) with its fine feathery tendrils that make you want to run your fingers through the leaves.  But not all plants feel how they look and it is only by interacting with them – i.e. touching them – that anticipation can be confirmed or surprised.  When there is great textural contrast within a border its effects are heightened not only because of the visual and physical impact of how those textures work together but also because the invitation to touch it is so much stronger too.

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Trees for structure in small gardens

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amelanchierOne of the elements of garden design that designers use is that of structure. While perennials and annuals come and go within a garden accenting it, it is the more permanent aspects of a garden - manmade like arbours or pergolas, or plants like shrubs and trees - that gives it structure, adding strength and often character to a space.

Trees are brilliant structural plants. When our horizontal opportunities are limiting trees allow us to capitalize upon the vertical possibilities often making the space feel bigger. They also add definition to a space too; for instance a single tree planted in the centre of an island bed defines a space in one way but a line of trees along a pathway adds a different dimension cmpletely. The age of a tree can also add a sense of history or context to a garden while the tree itself brings layers of biodiversity to a garden through the different species it supports. All in all a tree's reassuring presence throughout the seasons makes it a first port of call for any garden designer looking to add structure to a garden.

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