Used to be that ‘low maintenance’ was top of my clients’ wish lists. Made sense to me, it’s the top of my own list. Enough said. But lately, there’s more. ‘Restful green garden’ has been added. Not only do we not want to be charging around in gardening maintenance frenzy, we want the garden to give us a sense of calm.
Go to the green. Green is the colour of growth, balance, and renewal. Green sets the tone for tranquility. Green is this year’s colour of the year. Green is good.
There are plenty of plants available that will provide green without exuberant flowers. The evergreens, of course. Many deciduous plants have a subdued spring flowering of smallish white blossoms and then hunker down into a no-nonsense green for the summer. And there are lots of perennials that are grown primarily for the foliage.
The key to planning a green garden is playing with the plant shapes and including some variation in colour tone. Our hearts might be demanding peace and quiet, but our eyes always crave a little pop of action.
Plants grow into predictable shapes — globes, columns, vases, horizontal ground covers are common. Grouping together contrasting plant forms is a simple way of adding interest.
Cedars are the classic example. They come in a range of small to large globe shapes, and tall columnar shapes. A composition of three different cedars grouped tightly together is going to provide a nice sculptural effect. Cedars tend to be the same mid-tone green, so the grouping will be nicely unified. Interest but subdued. Remember that cedars prefer partial sun and moister soils.
Green is good, but the last thing anyone wants is a garden full of the same toned green.
Shake it up a bit with some blue-greens, purples, a small touch of chartreuse. Hostas and junipers are renown for their blue-greens, and are most effective in mass plantings of the same or similar cultivars. Hostas prefer shady moist conditions; juniper prefer sunnier and average to dry growing conditions.
Coral Bells are the plant for purples. They prefer partial shade and average moisture. One Tiger Eyes Sumac decked out in its exotic flamboyant yellow leaves is all the chartreuse needed. It prefers full to partial sun and average soil moisture.
Sweet potato vine, a lime green vigorous growing annual, will easily provide some interest as it overflows a pot or two, but at a leisurely growing pace.
Carla Keast has a master’s degree in landscape architecture and is a Winnipeg-based freelance landscape designer. She can be reached at email@example.com.