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GardenSMART Episode

Show #19/4806. Color Combinations For Your Garden

Summary of Show

Composing The Right Plant Combinations
Understanding the THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND COMPOSING THE RIGHT PLANT COMBINATIONS helps us achieve the results that we are looking for whether that is to design an intimate space or make a small space seem more expansive, create an elegant outdoor room, or bring a playful whimsy to the garden.
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Selecting Plants For Sun Or Shade
In this show we are going to be talking about selecting the right plant and also, achieve year round interest in the garden. At the very, very top of that objective is making sure the combination of plants we put together is selected for all the right purposes. The first thing we want to think about is selecting plants while remembering if it's a SUN AREA OR SHADE AREA. We should be mindful of selecting plants for sun areas, or if a shade area go for shade plants, if it's going to be sun and shade we select plants that will grow in shade or sun.
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Consider Texture
There are many things beyond just bloom and foliage. TEXTURE is important, as well as bark, we also have fruiting plants, which can often times be overlooked as far as the visual impact they have.
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Companion Plants
What about COMPANION PLANTS? Of course we want to put together great garden designs and that is going to include many different plants. How do we think about selecting the right companions? First of all, when thinking about companion plants, Jim likes to make sure to select an evergreen to back up a deciduous plant.
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Interest Twelve Months Of The Year
Jim walks us through his thought process. In this particular area he wanted to make sure he designed a garden planting that would be VISIBLE TWELVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR. And the reason is the house, which is right above this area. The living room faces this area, as does the dining room and the breakfast room, upstairs the bedroom, the master bath, the study, all of these rooms overlook this particular area so he wanted to make sure that he started with evergreens as the background material for the deciduous plants.
For More Information Click Here

Placing Plant Material
The way you PLACE YOUR PLANT MATERIAL thinking about evergreen and deciduous plants is important. Now to create interest twelve months of the year in front of the dissectum maple he needed an evergreen ground cover so used Helleborus. They start blooming the end of December into January, February and March. Then planted around those are the little snow drops that bloom in January and February.
For More Information Click Here

Consider The Most Important View From Your House
So, gardeners should think about where is the MOST IMPORTANT VIEW FROM THEIR HOUSE. Then design that view for year round interest. This particular planting, this area, no matter when you come to Gibbs Gardens, is going to have twelve months of interest. Jim personally enjoys it and his wife enjoys it because every morning they wake up and look down on this planting area.
For More Information Click Here

Fall Leaf Color
As mentioned, another important consideration is the FALL LEAF COLOR. We know the blooms real well, we know what the plant looks like through most of the summer but with plants like edgeworthia or hydrangea we don't often factor in that amazing bright yellow or deep red fall color. That too is a very impactful way of extending the seasonality of the plant.
For More Information Click Here

Color Echo
Another important garden design principle is COLOR ECHO. Color echo is using a lot of the same color combinations that are being mirrored throughout different parts of the garden. It's a way of bringing about a sense of cohesion and unity to our design. And that is what Jim has done in this garden. This next garden is adjacent to the area we just visited. That garden used a lot of silvers, whites as well as burgundy foliage. But, those were mostly trees and shrubs.
For More Information Click Here

Green And White Garden
As we walk into the shady part of the garden we find a beautiful green and white garden and you get a sense of relief. There is a sense of tranquility, kind of a peacefulness as our eye is not met with the same color distractions. So it gives us an opportunity just to rest on our way through this garden. This is a peaceful, restful area. Everybody that comes to Gibbs Gardens loves it and you'd be surprised how many of the ladies will say Mr. Gibbs I would like to have just a GREEN AND WHITE GARDEN. Do you rent that space for weddings.
For More Information Click Here

Woodland Shade Garden
There are so many opportunities for the WOODLAND SHADE gardener. Often times we feel like our options are limited when we get into shade but that is not really the case. It's just we are going to be working with a different pallet of plants but a lot of the same design principles come into play.
For More Information Click Here

Consider Texture In A Shade Garden
TEXTURE also comes into play in a shade garden. The combination of hostas, which typically have much larger leaves against ferns with a more fine, dissected, cut leaf provides a nice contrast of textures.
For More Information Click Here

Woody Ornamentals
We've looked at a number of more herbaceous plant combinations that work well in shade. But we don't want to miss the WOODY ORNAMENTALS because they bring so much value to the shade garden. And, they provide so much bloom and color impact. There's a full range throughout the season of what one can get out of woody ornamentals that work in shade. It's unbelievable how many ornamentals work in combinations and one of Jim's favorite combinations is when you select rhododendrons, because they are evergreen, then plant them with hydrangeas that are deciduous.
For More Information Click Here

Japanese Garden
We have discussed a number of different plant combinations that work really well in full sun and shade environments and in some of the mixed environments. The guys next visit a theme garden, the JAPANESE GARDEN. Eric believes that it is one of the most impressive gardens, by far, at Gibbs Gardens. When looking at a theme garden the rules are different because we are trying to transport people into a special place.
For More Information Click Here

Plant Combinations For A Japanese Garden
Eric would like to discuss some of the SPECIFIC PLANT COMBINATIONS that Jim used in the Japanese garden as well as the design principles that Jim put in place here to make all of this come together.
For More Information Click Here

LINKS:

Show #19/4806. Color Combinations For Your Garden

Transcript of Show

One of the hallmarks of a world-class garden is its ability to create dynamic, year round interest. In this episode GardenSMART meets a lifelong gardener and discusses how one can get the most out of their garden year round.

Some of Eric's favorite GardenSMART shows are the ones where we dig deep into the nuts and bolts of garden design. That is where the art in gardening shines through and the possibilities are endless. Using colorful and thoughtful plant combinations has a tremendous impact on the final product in the garden. Understanding the THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND COMPOSING THE RIGHT PLANT COMBINATIONS helps us achieve the results that we are looking for whether that is to design an intimate space or make a small space seem more expansive, create an elegant outdoor room, or bring a playful whimsy to the garden. Knowing the rules the pros follow is super helpful. In this episode we talk with a veteran garden designer and horticulturalist, Jim Gibbs, about how he built and designed his world-class garden and what we need to consider when looking at our own.

Eric meets Jim and thanks him for being with us. Gibbs Garden is one of Eric's favorite southeastern gardens and most importantly every time we visit we take home so much great gardening knowledge. Jim thanks Eric for those kind words and thanks him for inviting him to, once again, be a part of GardenSMART. In this show we are going to be talking about selecting the right plant and also, achieve year round interest in the garden. At the very, very top of that objective is making sure the combination of plants we put together is selected for all the right purposes. The first thing we want to think about is selecting plants while remembering if it's a SUN AREA OR SHADE AREA. We should be mindful of selecting plants for sun areas, or if a shade area go for shade plants, if it's going to be sun and shade we select plants that will grow in shade or sun. The problem Jim typically finds with most clients is they don't really concentrate on their area. One could have areas that are close together that have shade, then next to it sun, then next to that semi-shade and sun. In each of those areas you need to select plants for that particular place. If one will go to the plant books they are all divided into sun, shade, semi-shade and sun. Select the correct plants. But remember you may have a hundred plants in the book but if you have a shade area you're only looking at one third of those, so it's easy to select. Think about your plants and select for those three things. Eric opines that there are a lot of different gradings between full shade and full sun, so as we are looking at our garden it is important to note whether it is dappled shade or full shade. There are going to be some subtle differences in what will perform best there. If we are dealing with a fifty percent sun to full sun, in looking at the garden as a whole select plants that are going to perform in those transitional areas. It's very important to make sure we select the right plant.

Eric and Jim next talk about some of the other factors to consider from the standpoint of creating year round interest. There are many things beyond just bloom and foliage. TEXTURE is important, as well as bark, we also have fruiting plants, which can often times be overlooked as far as the visual impact they have. Jim agrees, all the plant material mentioned should be considered, the bark, the fruit, the flowers, and the color. As well, fall color can be spectacular. There are so many plants that bloom in the spring and summer but additionally their fall color can be magnificent. Always take into consideration fall color.

What about COMPANION PLANTS? Of course we want to put together great garden designs and that is going to include many different plants. How do we think about selecting the right companions? First of all, when thinking about companion plants, Jim likes to make sure to select an evergreen to back up a deciduous plant. As you plan your garden you need to mix evergreen and deciduous plants for sun and/or shade. Jim thinks that as we go through the garden today he can point to some plants that actually demonstrate this.

Eric believes that one of the most effective ways of learning garden design principles is having a designer talk through exactly what the thought process was, the different plants that were selected and why they were selected. Eric thinks that the area we're visiting in Gibbs Gardens is a wonderful example of year round interest and that Jim has done a brilliant job of putting together great plant combinations. Jim walks us through his thought process. In this particular area he wanted to make sure he designed a garden planting that would be VISIBLE TWELVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR. And the reason is the house, which is right above this area. The living room faces this area, as does the dining room and the breakfast room, upstairs the bedroom, the master bath, the study, all of these rooms overlook this particular area so he wanted to make sure that he started with evergreens as the background material for the deciduous plants. He chose to use large english boxwood that would be evergreen, then next to that the large rhododendrons, in this case lavender rhododendron, which accent the color of the burgundy in the maple trees.

The next thing he wanted to do was think about how to achieve twelve months of interest like we talked about earlier. In doing that he wanted to position the dissectum maple so they would provide bright red color in the spring and as well would provide bright red color in the fall of the year. And, it has that cut leaf that is beautiful year round. Then he wanted to make sure that in front of the evergreen boxwood and rhododendron he placed the paper bush. The paper bush, which is edgeworthia, begins to bloom in December with silver bells, then in January you have more silver bells, then much more in February. And the fragrance is unbelievable, it's fabulous. So in the winter time when the Japanese dissectum maple has no leaves on it you are looking through and see the paper bush in bloom. The way you PLACE YOUR PLANT MATERIAL thinking about evergreen and deciduous plants is important. Now to create interest twelve months of the year in front of the dissectum maple he needed an evergreen ground cover so used Helleborus. They start blooming the end of December into January, February and March. Then planted around those are the little snow drops that bloom in January and February. They are very tiny but they mix in well and they look great at the base of the dissectum maple. Also the yellow aconites are a beautiful ground cover around the snow drops and the hellebores. So all of those provide year round interest. Once through with winter and spring he next thinks about the summer, then fall.

In the summer we have wonderful hydrangeas. Notice behind the boxwood, that is evergreen, and the large rhododendron are the very large oak leaf hydrangeas that bloom in May. Next to them are the mop head hydrangeas that will bloom right after the oak leaf and the limelight that blooms during the summer months. These will carry all the way through August. One of Jim's favorite combinations is to use Kousa dogwoods, cornus cousa, with the oak leaf hydrangea at the base because they bloom at the same time. You also get that layered effect of the Kousa dogwood which works well next to the Cornus florida that blooms in the spring. Above that would be the sourwood that provides great fall color and blooms in the spring and fall of the year.

So, gardeners should think about where is the MOST IMPORTANT VIEW FROM THEIR HOUSE. Then design that view for year round interest. This particular planting, this area, no matter when you come to Gibbs Gardens, is going to have twelve months of interest. Jim personally enjoys it and his wife enjoys it because every morning they wake up and look down on this planting area. Eric feels there were so many great tips right in this area, especially thinking about layering the design. This is a fabulous way to think about design. But this area is a semi shade and sun, which is wonderful, but if this were a sun garden we would need to think about the sun plants. So selection of plants is very important.

As mentioned, another important consideration is the FALL LEAF COLOR. We know the blooms real well, we know what the plant looks like through most of the summer but with plants like edgeworthia or hydrangea we don't often factor in that amazing bright yellow or deep red fall color. That too is a very impactful way of extending the seasonality of the plant. Oak leaf hydrangeas have vivid red foliage in the fall, the brilliant yellow leaf of the edgeworthia is fabulous and that, of course, is one of the last plants to come into color. So, by mixing the colors for fall, spring and summer we can create year round interest. So, be sure to think about year round interest in your gardens.

Another important garden design principle is COLOR ECHO. Color echo is using a lot of the same color combinations that are being mirrored throughout different parts of the garden. It's a way of bringing about a sense of cohesion and unity to our design. And that is what Jim has done in this garden. This next garden is adjacent to the area we just visited. That garden used a lot of silvers, whites as well as burgundy foliage. But, those were mostly trees and shrubs. In this area Jim is doing that with the annuals and picking up on burgundies, deep reds, and then the little splashes of white and silver. It really ties everything together. In this part of the garden we have got seven different terraced layers and they all, in some ways, behave as independent gardens. What draws everything together is this color echoing. So as you look down through all of it there is a sense of unity and there is also a sense of tranquility that you get because they are all connected. Color echoes carry your eye through the garden from one area to the next, to the next, to the next, through the seven terraced levels.

We've just left the full sun part of the garden which has all of these really vibrant annuals and a lot of color. Sometimes if all we have in a garden is a series of intense color there can be a little bit of fatigue that sets in. As we walk into the shady part of the garden we find a beautiful green and white garden and you get a sense of relief. There is a sense of tranquility, kind of a peacefulness as our eye is not met with the same color distractions. So it gives us an opportunity just to rest on our way through this garden. This is a peaceful, restful area. Everybody that comes to Gibbs Gardens loves it and you'd be surprised how many of the ladies will say Mr. Gibbs I would like to have just a GREEN AND WHITE GARDEN. Do you rent that space for weddings. Some people even call it the wedding garden because it is green and white. For some reason, in nature almost every white flower that blooms in the evening is going to be fragrant. So they love the fragrance of the garden as well as the flowers, so this is definitely a rest area for the eyes between a full sun area to the west and the garden to the north. There is an elegance in that kind of simple design that we shouldn't overlook. And, as mentioned fragrance, which is so prominent among white, flowering plants is a very important additional dimension to the garden.

There are so many opportunities for the WOODLAND SHADE gardener. Often times we feel like our options are limited when we get into shade but that is not really the case. It's just we are going to be working with a different pallet of plants but a lot of the same design principles come into play. Eric loves some of the combinations that Jim has put together and asks Jim to talk through what has really worked well in the woodland shade garden. The first thing to do is think about combinations. There are so many ferns to select from, hostas work beautifully with ferns in the shade. One can use the variegated white of the hostas to add some light and interest to all the greens of the ferns. As well, Japanese painted fern has a stunning silver, that goes beautifully with the chartreuse of the acorus that is planted next to the walkway, as well as the chartreuse of the ogon, That chartreuse creates a color echo of chartreuse through the garden. To make the shade garden more interesting we need to use whites and chartreuse with the varying greens. But remember when light falls on ferns it accents all the different shades of green, when you add chartreuse and silver you have a beautiful garden.

TEXTURE also comes into play in a SHADE GARDEN. The combination of hostas, which typically have much larger leaves against ferns with a more fine, dissected, cut leaf provides a nice contrast of textures. Jim finds that using the chartreuse of the hostas juxtaposed against the ferns is a great a way of accenting different curves and paths. Remember a curved walk moves your eye through the garden and makes it more interesting.

We've looked at a number of more herbaceous plant combinations that work well in shade. But we don't want to miss the WOODY ORNAMENTALS because they bring so much value to the shade garden. And, they provide so much bloom and color impact. There's a full range throughout the season of what one can get out of woody ornamentals that work in shade. It's unbelievable how many ornamentals work in combinations and one of Jim's favorite combinations is when you select rhododendrons, because they are evergreen, then plant them with hydrangeas that are deciduous. The rhododendron are going to give you four weeks of color, usually in May, with all different colors. At Gibbs Gardens they have over a thousand rhododendron, all different colors. And, they also have over a thousand hydrangeas with a hundred and twenty varieties. And they are going to bloom anywhere from May, June, July, August and September even into October. So you've got this long season of color but in the winter what is so important with this combination, if you walk in this garden it's not boring, it's not monotonous because you don't have just sticks from the hydrangeas, you have the rhododendrons that are the background for the deciduous hydrangea. And, don't forget leaf color. Rhododendrons have a nice, dark green leaf. Hydrangeas, like the big leaf hydrangea, the mop heads, are a lighter green. In the rhododendron-hydrangea garden notice the leaf of the hydrangea with the rhododendron. We are in June and have the wonderful blooms of the hydrangea, the rhododendron have completed blooming. Thinking about the garden from the standpoint of interest throughout the entire year one of the key design principles to keep in mind is diversity. If they had planted all the same rhododendrons and all the same hydrangeas there would have been a couple months where it was really, really dynamic but that would fall off and one would have a garden that is mostly a sea of neutral green. They have done a really great job of introducing all these different cultivars that bloom at different times. But don't neglect or overlook the impact of foliage, which is very important in a shade garden. Even things as simple as the occasional Japanese maple that bring in purple foliage, works extremely well against the dark green of the rhododendrons. And don't forget the dogwoods. The dogwoods with flowers in the spring are stunning. So all of these plants work great together. They are great combinations.

We have discussed a number of different plant combinations that work really well in full sun and shade environments and in some of the mixed environments. The guys next visit a theme garden, the JAPANESE GARDEN. Eric believes that it is one of the most impressive gardens, by far, at Gibbs Gardens. When looking at a theme garden the rules are different because we are trying to transport people into a special place. Whether it's a tropical garden, a southwest garden, or in this case, a Japanese garden we are trying to transport them into, say, Japan. What are some of the rules that we need to look at when thinking about building a Japanese garden and what kind of plant combinations did Jim use to accomplish that? There are rules of design for a Japanese garden. This is an authentic Japanese garden, the largest in the nation. There are three elements of design that need to be incorporated. One wants to make sure you have water, you want to have stones, and plants. They are all symbolic. Stones, for example, Jim has a book and it shows the name of the stone. You have to go out and select the stone for the shape or form shown in the drawing in the book and it has a symbolic reference in its name. For example the rock of never aging, everybody wants to go out and sit on the rock of never aging. You also have plants. So water, stones, and plants. Those are the three elements that are needed to work with. The first thing they did at Gibbs Gardens was to start with the design of the ponds. Next, this is a four season garden so one must think about winter. There has got to be enough interest in winter so you have to go through and place all of your winter plant material, which are the basic evergreens of the garden then you begin to work on the selection of all the other color combinations and plant combinations that work to pull it together. Remember a Japanese garden is not a lot of annuals or perennials. The plants you select are very important. They do have flowers, for example the Japanese love azaleas. They are evergreen but there are many, many varieties of azaleas. They start blooming in early April and bloom all the way through June and July. It is very important to consider the selection of plant material. Of course you are incorporating a lot of asian plant material. They have Mahonia, different junipers, and Japanese maples of course. They actually have over three thousand Japanese maples planted at Gibbs Gardens but in this one garden there are over one hundred varieties of Japanese maples and they are all different colors. And, they are absolutely fabulous.

Eric would like to discuss some of the SPECIFIC PLANT COMBINATIONS that Jim used in the Japanese garden as well as the design principles that Jim put in place here to make all of this come together. Winter is the most difficult time to make the garden be a success, thus an important consideration. Once he designed the plant material for winter, which includes choosing and selecting evergreens, Jim next began to think about the plant combinations that have the textures he wants to work with. Every area in a garden needs to have three textures. A feathery texture, an area that has some sharp, pointed textures, and something that is smooth and rounded. Mix those leaves together with different greens and different textures and it comes together.

A Japanese garden is all about the plant material and the textures of the plant material, and selecting the combinations that all work together. Notice the chartreuse of taxus, even though it is very faint, you pick it up with ogon which has more chartreuse or even the acorus or go to the variegated junipers or the chamaecyparis, gold tread chamaecyparis. All these plants working together really give the color you need so you don't need to introduce annuals and perennials. Those echoed combinations are present throughout this garden. It's the blues against the chartreuse, then the burgundy foliage. Beyond that it is just looking at the way we are going to make the different textures add interest inside of those combinations.

Eric thinks it is really well done. Jim appreciates the compliment, this garden was without a doubt the most difficult of gardens to design because you have to think about spring, summer, fall and winter in the design process, meaning you have got to select plants for each of those seasons. So it is not an easy garden to design. Eric understands and comments that we shouldn't feel too bad if our garden doesn't look exactly like this? Jim would not worry at all, this is a difficult garden to design.

Eric thanks Jim for spending the day with us. Today we have discussed how creating great plant combinations allows us to have year round interest in the garden. These are some wonderful tips we can use at home. We have learned so much and it is always a pleasure seeing Gibbs Gardens. Jim in turn thanks Eric, he appreciates the visit, it has been great.

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