Colour and shape play a key role in a design and are easy to visualise. But an often forgotten tenet of garden design is texture – equally important to a successful design.
Texture is the combined look of all elements of a garden working together. When it comes to planting, we usually categorise it in three groups: fine, medium, or bold texture. You don’t necessarily have to have a planting plan filled with flowing species to have a beautiful textured planting scheme. In this post, I focus on leaf texture, so show how you can easily add texture to your planting beds. With Spring just around the corner, now is a good time to start planning and implementing new planting!
Fine Textured Plants
Fine textured plants are usually wispy and delicate, having an airy feel about them. They generally look better in broad groups and swaths than alone.
My favourite examples of fine textured plants are ornamental grasses such as Stipa and Pennisetum. Grasses can be used in any style design, looking great in a large perennial border adding year-round interest, working particularly well with bold colours and shaped flowers such as roses, or between structural shrub planting within a contemporary design.
Some fine leaved plants can add a beautiful focal feature – Japanese Acers or Sambucus nigra ‘Black lace’ for example have such delicate leaves you can’t help but take a closer look.
If you have a shady area of the garden, fine texture can also be added using ferns. The ferns can be invaluable for their soft textured fronds and are again best planted on mass. Easy to grow varieties such as Dryopteris and Polystichums give great contrast to other bold leaved plants such as Hostas as well as adding evergreen colour.
Plants that have a soft or textured surface such as soft leaved species make them great tactile plants to add at the front of borders or in raised beds. Most are grey in colour which are terrific at making other colours more vivid. Examples such as Santolina and Artemisia have lovely fine silver leaves or Stachys byzantina (lambs’ ears) with its soft to the touch leaves.
Bold Textured Plants
Bold texture are plants that are recognised for their wide, often large, bold shape and strong leaves. These plants add bold statements to a planting scheme often being a focal point or highlight amongst other plants. They also allow you to play around with scale in a smaller space.
Bold textured plants are great for creating a jungle or exotic look, and many plants with bold foliage are hardy – so they do not need protection during the winter months. Plants such as Fatsia japonica, Bergenia and Acanthus (bears breaches) have a lovely bold leaf shape and size.