Monday, August 13, 2012

Landscape Design Dilemma– Visual Clutter

Design Elements That Overwhelm

When I was gardening for clients, our Owner/designer of the company exclaimed one afternoon that the problem was ‘visual clutter’!  We had worked this small garden on several occasions, and then we would go back at the home owners request to tweak the beds once again.  The design was not coherent and seemed messy. 
I have been guilty of this phenomenon in my own garden.  Mainly because I started my fevered passion of gardening as a Plant Collector.  I had to have every plant on each trip to the garden center.  The Plant catalogs didn’t help either, with the endless gorgeous pictures staring back at me.  Without fail, I bought plants and THEN tried to figure out where to plop them into the garden.  If that didn’t pan out, we dug out another bed to accommodate the new residents. 
In other words, we did not have a plan, unless you call planning to buy more, a plan.  We did not consider much more than if the plant needed sun or shade.  Even then, we took to plant to its limits – with minimal success. 
This bed is example of what I call ‘visual clutter’.  Colors are all over there realm of cool to warm.  The individual plants are buried by others, so that none of them gets the respect it deserves. 
This hosta bed is boring.  Similar colors – green – similar textures, and all of the plants are the same height.  Good landscape design should balance these features. 
This section of the garden has some redeeming qualities.  The height of the Knockout© Rose in the back, and the  shorter hydrangea are more pleasing to the eye.  In the foreground, I have the perennial salvia and iris foliage. 
I like the white accent color of the hydrangea and it gives the eye a place to rest.  Too much going on can confuse and I, for one, am confused enough, and a calming restful color holds that key of peacefulness I seek in the garden. 
This bright spot of gold from the Black-eyed-Susan, Rudbeckia, Goldstrum, again offers a mess for the eye to focus on. 
Onesys, and twosys, just don’t stand up to the scrutiny of a visitor in the garden.  The landscape design really needs continuity and this is best achieved by planting in groups.  Odd numbers – three, five, or seven – go a long way in creating a cohesive garden. A garden that folks will remember – ‘oh, that bed of astilbes was gorgeous’, or ‘those hosta  looked so vibrant.’
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Restraint is not always easy, but I’m learning the art.  I think the garden will reward me with a calmness, and order that I seek. 
Are you a plant collector?  How do you achieve continuity in your garden?
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