Throwing Shapes or in Good Form?

Borders need a combination of upright and rounded shapes for best effect

Borders need a combination of upright and rounded shapes for best effect

Have you ever thought about shapes in the garden, or to be more exact, in the planted areas? It’s worth thinking about because a well-planned garden will include a variety of plant shapes to achieve the most visually pleasing look. It can be tempting as a new gardener to focus only on the flowering potential of your new best friends, and I understand this completely, having once been a rookie myself. It’s so tempting to wander through a garden centre and be seduced by the colour, texture and fragrance of blooms, and to fill up your garden with attractive flowers.

Which of us in the heady first stages of our love affair with gardening hasn’t done this? Unless you choose very wisely though, the flowers can be all too fleeting, and you can be left with a collection of plants that, with flowering over, are not really adding anything else to the party. Foliage matters, although it can seem boring at first, but today I thought we might talk about form, or the actual shape of the plant when it’s fully grown.

A well designed garden, and a well designed border, will have a carefully arranged combination of shapes to complement one another and contrast well with each other. So, rounded shapes, spreading shapes and uprights will all have their part to play in adding to the overall composition.

In more formal gardens, plants are clipped into shapes that nature never intended, but that can work very well as a contrast to looser, more relaxed planting. Think of crisp yew hedges used as a backdrop to exuberantly colourful perennials, or clipped spheres of box surrounded by more flowing shapes.

Even in low maintenance gardens, the careful choice of form and shape is important if you want to avoid the “plate of buns” planting look. To make it work, you need to strike a balance between the differing eventual size of each plant so you have a pleasing combination of different sizes, always remembering that smaller plants should always be added in groups rather than singly. Punctuate the rounder shapes at appropriate intervals with uprights, with lower plants of spreading habit towards the front. Now when someone asks you “How’s the form?” you can reply “Just perfect, thank you”!!

Anne Byrne Garden Design provides easy to follow Garden Plans that you can implement right away or in stages. Anne’s design flair and passion for plants brings a touch of magic to gardens of all sizes.

Anne Byrne Garden Design – Creative Ideas – Practical Solutions – Stunning Gardens.

T: 086 683 8098 E: [email protected]



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