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Garden Design
Advice for Plant Junkies
by Anne Moore

Dr. Richard Ludwig is an award-winning educator, writer, and speaker. He's the host of the TV show, "The Southern Gardener", featured on PBS. His advice for combining plants in a landscape can be used wherever you garden.

Richard LudwidGood garden design isn't made up of a plant zoo. The whole should be grander than its individual parts. "Avoid the feckless mush", says Dr. Ludwig. Color, form, and texture all play significant roles in how your garden looks.

Use color to highlight areas or to make the flowerbeds look larger or smaller. Bright colors like red, orange and yellow shout. Use them at a distance or to draw attention to an area. Quieter color blends are up close and personal, best used for pots on a deck.

Dr. Ludwig said that simplicity in a color scheme is elegant and will always work. Use just 2 or 3 colors. He also suggests that beiges and creams work better than pure white.

Use warm colors, such as red and orange, as punctuation marks. Don't put a red flower next to a garbage can, for instance, but do put it next to a garden gate. Red draws the eye.

Blues and purples fade into the background. You can make your borders look deeper by backing them with these colors. Since yellow reflects color, use it at the back of a large border to make it appear to come forward.

Another way to change the way your space looks is with texture. Large and/or shiny leaves are considered coarse textured. Small leaves are considered fine textured. Coarse texture comes forward; fine texture appears to shrink back. So, if you want your border to look larger, put coarse textured plants in front with fine textured plants behind.

Use more lower growing, round shaped plants than tall, skinny ones. Use these tall ones to draw attention to an area. If you put an upright form at the corner of the house, the eye is drawn to the corner. Instead, plant it near the front door to draw people there. He suggests putting roundy next to spiky, droopy, or frilly.

Dr. Ludwig said there's no relationship between knowing and growing skills and the artistic putting together skills. We're all plant junkies. To create a good garden design, quit thinking about a plant as a friend, or even a plant, but what it can contribute to the overall design by color, form, or texture.

Copyright 2002, Anne Moore
Anne Moore is a member of the Garden Writer's Association and a writer in the Southeast United States.