By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
These days we are all staying closer to home. The extra time we spend looking at or in our gardens is giving us a new appreciation of the value of a beautiful landscape. One easy way you can add instant and long-lasting beauty to the landscape is with statement plants—those that lend a bold, architectural look as they dramatically fill their allotted space.
Centuries of gardening history show how stunning landscapes use statement plants. These varieties are used as focal points, space dividers, and to direct flow, adding structure to large and small spaces. “Think of the statement plant as the jewel and the surrounding garden as the setting,” says landscape designer Margie Grace. “You can pair the loveliest of accessories (the “statement plant”) with the simplest of settings (think “little black dress”). Done thoughtfully, this approach yields an elegant composition.”
Statement Plants as Focal Points
“Every space needs a focal point, a place where the eye is drawn to,” says landscape designer John Robert Beaudry. “Having a place for the eye to stop makes a garden feel more restful. The right focal point can be something that lifts spirits or adds excitement.”
One way you can utilize a statement plant as a beautiful focal point is to select a variety with dramatic form. Topiaries (trees and shrubs pruned in ornamental shapes), trellised shrubs (those trained vertically on a trellis), and espaliered trees (trained to grow in a pattern along a frame) all immediately draw your eye to their dramatic architectural form.
Statement Plants to Define a Space
A focal point is one way to enjoy a statement plant in your landscape. You can also utilize plants that add beauty and architecture to divide your landscape into different rooms. Breaking your landscape into a series of rooms with structural plants like Mint Julep® Juniper or espaliered Chollipo Euonymus makes walking through an experience in discovery. Plant several large evergreens together (either in your landscape or a decorative container) to create a natural wall. Emerald Colonnade® Holly, for example, offers dense, glossy, bright-green foliage. It is a beautiful choice as a living screen to split one space from the next.
Statement Plants for Guiding Visitors
Another way to enjoy statement plants in your landscape is to instruct directional flow. Intentional placement of a line of Purple Fountain Grass can direct your visitors along a pathway and offer a natural sense of movement. Or plant a low hedge, such as Petite Pillar™ Boxwood, as an instant design element that is beautiful and functional. Boxwood’s dense, deep green foliage is perfect for directing garden guests from the side yard to the backyard, for example.
Statement Plants for Your Deck, Patio, and Porch
You can enjoy the beauty of statement plants in outdoor living areas such as decks, patios, and porches, as well as your landscape. A pair of poodle topiaries (those pruned with sections of trunk separating spheres of foliage) flanking a front door is a simple way to add beauty to an entry, for example. Or add height and an architectural look to a patio by placing potted euonymus topiary along its perimeter. Take your deck from bland to beautiful with a pair of Lemon Swirl® Australian Brush Cherry spiral-shaped topiaries. Enjoy a wall of color with Purple Queen® Bougainvillea on a trellis and espaliered Apple Blossom Camellia.
Statement Plants for Natural Gardens
Plants pruned into special shapes fit in many design styles. For other landscape looks, you can enjoy plants that naturally make a statement with their form, texture, or color. Trees like Japanese maples are classic choices. Their distinctive, finely cut leaves and dramatic, sculptural shapes are often used in Asian garden design. Their beauty in the landscape transcends any specific design style, however.
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