In The Garden – By Stephen and Kristin Pategas
We are texture freaks. We love plant foliage that pushes the visual envelope. Make it bold, fine, sculptural, lacy, or spiky. It’s a magnet for our eyes. We don’t need every plant in bloom if the vegetation is striking and sexy. While flowers seasonally come and go, the leaves are consistent through the year. When it comes to texture, the scale and context of all plants in the scene are totally relevant. Pay attention to the sizes of the leaves whether fine, medium, or coarse as well as their surface textures. The surfaces may be smooth, rough, hairy, waxy, or creased/quilted.
Create a textural garden by combining palms, trees, shrubs, groundcovers, vines, perennials, succulents, and annuals that have contrasting foliage that draws the eye. A landscape of similar textures can be mundane. It is the textural nuances in the leaf shapes and sizes along with their surfaces that create interest.
In a tropical-looking garden, palms are a good choice to add the tropical touch. Here it is the fronds of varying textures from the bold sabal, Everglades/paurotis, saw palmetto, or European fan palms to the lacy lady, foxtail, queen, or date palms that create the interest. Mix in sub-tropical shrubs and groundcovers with bold leaves such as elephant ears (Colocasia), banana, canna, cardboard plant, silver leafed princess flower (Tibouchina heteromalla), orange bird of paradise, and orange justicia (Justicia spicigera). Fine-textured plants include bamboos in various sizes, liriopes, foxtail fern, and ornamental grasses. Pow! Time to survey the scene with a cold beverage in a hammock.
Shady areas have many options with bold textured giant leopard plant, split-leaf philodendron, swiss cheese plant, cast iron plant, oakleaf hydrangea, and Japanese fatsia contrasting with fine-textured camellias, yew podocarpus, Soft Caress mahonia, mondo grass, dwarf mondo grass, coontie, autumn fern, and holly fern.
Water garden plantings can range from the large-leaved lotus, pickerel weed, and water lilies juxtaposed with the sculptural spiral juncus, lacy papyrus, and spiky horsetail. On overcast days catch the extra drama when leaves cast dark reflections in the water.
Even an herb garden where the largest leaves are only one to two inches wide benefits from a variety of leaf sizes to stimulate the eye. Select a range of herbs that include sweet basil or sage, and pair it with rosemary, the very small-leaved thyme, or the teeny tiny leaved Corsican mint. Toss in the feathery dill or fennel and the garden is texturally well seasoned.
Look past the blooms and focus on the foliage texture to create a garden for all seasons. Your eyes will be glad you did, especially when plants are out of bloom.
Hortus Oasis (FL26000315) in Winter Park is a boutique garden design company specializing in residential, commercial and specialty gardens. Stephen is a registered landscape architect and Kristin is a certified landscape designer. Contact them at Hortus Oasis (FL26000315) in Winter Park is a boutique garden design company specializing in residential, commercial and specialty gardens. Stephen is a registered landscape architect and Kristin is a certified landscape designer. Contact them at 407-622-4886/ [email protected].
All photography by Stephen G. Pategas/Hortus Oasisby