Winter Dreams, Summer Blossoms
Planning Ahead for your Garden
Photography: Kevin Syms
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Texture and color are also important to Weston. “Basically, I’m looking for contrasts—different colors, kinds of textures—soft, hard or ferny. For softer textures, if I want something quieter, I use Wooly Thyme, Wooly Lambs Ear, Artemisia. For dark striking textures, it could be something like evergreens.” It depends on what the site recommends. “I want it to be harmonious enough to feel like one piece, but I want elements that contrast enough with the other textures that they stand out. When you have something that stands out, it makes the other things stand out as well.”
For color, begin by sketching the backbone of the garden—the plants that remain the same color for most of the year. “For example,” says Weston, “if I have a Gold Mound Spirea, it has beautiful yellow leaves that will be the same color from May through September.”
Next add flowers that bloom in different months by using a different piece of tracing paper for each month. Balance the placement of colors within each month. “I want to have the garden blooming all year with some plants blooming in May, some in June, July, August. I don’t want all the May blooming plants to be blooming in the right-hand corner of the garden. I want plants blooming in the front and also in the back. I want some of those May blooming plants that are six inches tall, some two feet tall and some 18 inches tall. I’m playing with and balancing all these flowery colors and sizes.”
In a perennial garden, find a color combination that feels good to you, that flows across the garden. It’s all a matter of personal taste, according to Weston. “There is no hard and fast rule of what colors work with other colors.” Figure out the palette you like, then choose flowers that come in those colors.
Another way to draw out a garden plan, suggested by landscaper Wilkes, is to use the site plan available from your home architect, contractor or from the county. Pin the site plan to a board, and use tracing paper and soft lead pencils so you can erase. A good scale is one inch equals 10 feet. Wilkes suggests getting a landscape template (available at stationery or art supply stores) which has symbols of different trees and plants scaled to size so that you can draw using the template, starting with the major structural elements and ending with the perennials.
“You want to go for unity and flow so that there are repeating elements throughout the garden that create a rhythm.”
As Weston says, “Look at pictures, study, figure out what it is that you like. Everyone knows what they like, if they’re willing to study it. Then take that information and apply it. That’s all I ever did.”