We’ve talked about creating contrast in the garden by using overall plant height and form as well as foliage texture, size, and color. This technique can be particularly useful when working with very natural or slightly unkempt plant species. Creating contrast between neighboring groups of plants will rein the wild ones in a bit. But, when we drill down to just foliage color by itself, we tend to see green, green, and more green. Other than a few plants with purple or gray leaves, how can we create enough contrast using green-leaved plants?
Bear in mind, not all greens are created equal. Take advantage of this dormant, leafless season of deciduous plants to assess the green of evergreens. By themselves and up close, green-leaved plants look, well, just green. Next to one another, however, and especially from a distance, we begin to notice the gray-green of White Pine (Pinus strobus), the blue green of American Holly (Opaca americana) and the black-green of Leyland Cypress (xCupressocyparis leylandii).
Now, let’s consider variegated plants. Observe them from a distance where leaf variegation is lost and we'll notice even more shades of green... the yellow-green of Variegated Osmanthus (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’), the silver-green of Variegated Shrub Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’), and the apple-green of Japanese Shade Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’).
There’s plenty to work with within the spectrum of green. Also, keep in mind, our guests typically view our gardens from a patio, deck or the street. So it’s more important to understand what a mass of plants looks like from far away than at close range. Spend some time observing greens in the gray-brown landscape of the winter season and you just may be surprised at the number of shades and hues of green you see with more on the way. Think spring!
Welcome to my journal. For over 20 years I've created original landscape plans to help homeowners increase property value and really enjoy their yards. I approach every project as an unique opportunity to develop a work of living art, one that will require minimal care and age beautifully with time. In this journal, I will share some of my field experiences and tricks of the trade with you. Please join the conversation and thanks for visiting.