How to Add Architectural Plants to Your Garden

Plants come in unlimited shapes and sizes, which you can use to great advantage.Think of your garden as an architect would a building-as a three-dimensional structure with line, scale, and texture-and then use plants as the building blocks.

For the framework, you can choose from a vast array of “architectural plants”-hardy specimens with well-defined silhouettes that lend durable and dramatic form to the landscape in all seasons.

Plant Selection

Good architectural plants include trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses, which come in myriad shapes depending on the growth habit of the stems and foliage.

The water feature request was a real triumph and something of a collector’s piece as well. I came across the foundry that had commissioned Anthony Gormley the sculptor to design a series of decorative street furniture bollards that were to be used in redeveloping upcoming areas. The foundry agreed to sell me just one and to provide it with a hole at the top end. When I explained this was destined to be a water feature they were amazed and delighted with the novel way of using this huge piece of steel. The resulting feature nicknamed ‘the bomb” has indeed become a talking point of the garden!

Practical Uses

Whether alone or in a group, distinctly sculptural plants can establish a boundary, minimize a defect, or provide an accent.

Setting a Mood

Architectural plants can also set a tone:A symmetrical evergreen hedge, for example, lends a formal look, while a well-placed weeping cherry sets a more relaxed mood.

Creative Effects

Plant shapes can be used to achieve a variety of effects, too. In general, vertical forms, such as pyramids, columns, and upright ovals, are eye-catchers, drawing the design of the garden skyward.Horizontal forms, including spreading and umbrella shapes, act as anchors, linking the garden to ground level.The front yard is typically the first thing that people see when they visit a home, and its appearance sets the tone for the rest of the house. While backyards are often given more attention, using some of the following front yard landscaping ideas will help you create a usable and enjoyable space.

Combining Shapes

Perhaps the most challenging-and rewarding-aspect of plant architecture is combining different shapes into a compatible grouping. Pairing strongly divergent profiles, such as a soaring pyramid and prostrate “fan,” makes for dynamic contrast, whereas pairing related shapes, such as an egg and a globe or an umbrella and a bowl, results in a soft, harmonious design. When you begin looking at plants as architectural elements, you’ll find yourself seeing your landscape- and those of your neighbours-in a whole new way!

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