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.

How to Add Architectural Plants to Your Garden

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.

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.

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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