A Foundation Planting / Seasonal Garden

If your in the colder planting zones you may think a seasonal garden is one that looks good during most of the growing months, and then “blah” during the off season.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  The warmer months certainly have the advantage in terms of flower color, but there are so many other elements to consider for seasonal interest.

Let’s take a look at this corner foundation planting to see how its variety of elements will give interest no matter what time of  year it is.foundation.plntng_corner1First, I’d like to mention that this designer shows nice continuity in this garden by working with groupings of like plants.  If you do anything when composing a garden, try to think in terms of “brush strokes” with the plants. This one design principle will help get you on your way to a well-composed garden.

Dimensional Interest

Don’t let the phrase scare you.  What I’m talking about is taking some of the “flat” away.  Imagine for a minute the space from the belgian block curb to the building as “flat” (well, pitched slightly for drainage, right?).  How much less interesting would it be?  By incorporating several boulders and extra soil this foundation planting takes on a whole new and interesting dimension. Now please don’t go out there and put boulders in every garden you do.  Boulder placement and usage is another topic unto itself, but just see how it can add to a garden whether it’s summer or winter.

Textural Interest

Textures can be categorized as: fine, medium and coarse.  Often you can combine two if a texture falls between the two terms, e.g. medium-coarse.  Texture is certainly a design characteristic to consider.  The contribution  plants offer for texture is huge.  This foundation planting is showing some nice variety with texture, however I would have looked to add something a bit “coarser” for even more contrast. Perhaps an interesting variety of hosta.

Color Interest

Naturally we all first think of flower color as the way to get color into the garden.  But there’s color in other elements and features as well.  Here in the northeast where our flowering seasons are relatively short, you really have to consider other ways to get color into the landscape.

  • Leaf  color can not only give variety of color, but it’s color that will last (as long as the leaves are on the plant).  Evergreens will give foliage color all year.  In fact, it will vary as the newer foliage comes out and matures each year.
  • Stem and bark color is an absolute consideration especially with deciduous plants.  Think of a leafless birch or Red Twig dogwood…just beautiful!
  • Boulders, gravel and stone are natural elements that offer many hues and colors.
  • Decorative features and structures that are man-made can, in most instances, be done in any color you wish. Think of the beautiful planters, urns, statuary, arbors, trellises…

Always keep in mind that every beautiful garden has evolved over time and will continue to evolve.  And it’s not just the changes that occur through the growth and maturing of the plantings, but it’s also the changes and enhancements that you bring.  This is one of the great truths about the landscape.

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