Feeling rather blue, having spent too much time in the office doing the books, and not enough time working with plants, dirt, and design. The recent dry, dry brown Colorado landscape, with no white snow cover hasn’t done much to lift my mood. The prospect of my girlfriend’s birthday today provided the needed dose of creative inspiration. I dashed to the supermarket, and grabbed an interesting array of flowers for a birthday bouquet. As I was creating her “present in a vase”, I noticed that successful floral design includes common principles whether one is working with live plants in the ground, or cut flowers.
Form, texture, shape and finally color, all contribute to a successful composition, whether the plants live in dirt, or in water. Diversity, repetition, and triangulation (meaning 3 spread apart) help create design that is pleasing to the eye. In the picture on the left, note the difference between the tulip shape, and the sunflower shape. See the distinction between the broadleaf greenery (from the tulips), and the feathery limonium (small purple sprigs). Round shapes of the hypericum (berries) contrast with the spiky petals of the lime green mums and the sunflowers. Small leaves of the barberry (barely visible in back) contrast with the broad leaves of the tulips. Different sizes of similar shapes create both repetition and diversity. Notice the how the thin petals of the mums contrast with the broader petals of the sunflowers.
These principles are important in garden design too. A well-designed garden incorporates diversity in form or shape (vase shape, spike, mounded, round), diversity in texture (smooth, spiky, prickly, soft-fuzzy), height, and finally color. Leafing through pictures in garden magazines, the best photos represent gardens that have pleasing compositions using the above design principles. If you use these techniques well, you don’t need to worry as much about bloom time, or color to create excitement in your yard. The next time you go shopping for new additions to your garden, think about what shapes, textures, and heights you already have, and find plants that provide repetition, or contrast to your existing species. Your garden will look professionally designed!