The beauty of a garden is perceived through its appearance and how we visually receive it to our eyes - also to our nose and touch.
But let’s focus on the look of a garden and on the textures we can input in it through the use of a designed selection of plants.
Garden textures characterise the appearance and how we visually see the garden or balcony as a whole.
The more textures we see, the more interest we find in a space.
Lack of texture could result in a boring, flat, plain garden without charm or attraction
Whilst it's exciting to visit a beautiful garden rich of textures, we should find the right balance to nail both the look and the functionality at the same time in order to make the space feel designed and thought in every aspect.
Too many textures in fact may in some cases result overwhelming and disturbing depending on the use of the space we do.
Let’s for example think about a space of the garden that we want to dedicate and use for some reading and relaxing time. Characterising this space with different textures, strong patterns and colours would work against the sweet and peaceful feeling the space should instead be characterised by. For this kind of space, introducing just a few soft and light textures accompanied by the right selection on colours could be ideal.
Elements that provide Texture
Foliage is what will mostly contribute to giving texture to a garden, but also flowers and colours in general give their own.
• Foliage: each plant presents its own leaf’s shape, size and finish and especially for evergreen species this is what gives the more durable texture result year-round. Mix spikey with rounded, small with large, sharp with soft edges, needle-like with hairy leafed, glossy with matte, fine and soft with solid shaped.
• Not only the above: try to mix different greens, from silvery (e.g. olive, artemisia, lavender, stachys) to glossy dark.
• Flowers: also flowers have their own shape, size, quantity on each plant species and colour obviously. So this is surely something you want to keep in mind and work with, especially because most species bloom in spring-summer and that’s when we tend to use and live outdoors the most.
• Colours: colours contribute to creating textures in a garden, by selecting harmonious shades we achieve a thoughtful design.
Types of Foliage to Achieve Different Textures
And here are the most common types of foliage we may find around and how they input texture in a garden:
Spikey plants are usually labelled as architectural plants because they have a very important presence among other plants, with their somewhat rigid and coarse aspect, long leaves that provide a very particular pattern to the garden mix.
Broad leaves usually represent a great complementary element to all other plants, providing a mass of colour in solid contrast to other finer or less consistent textures.
Usually hairy leafed plants have a silvery green/ gray colour which, despite being lighter can results strong among darker greens or against vivid colours. They not only provide a particular shade of green but they also look tender, soft and have vanishing edges making the whole plant look light.
Fine leaves most commonly characterise ornamental grasses. These plants provide movement, sound through wind and a fine texture that coupled with other foliage provide a softer touch and area to the garden.