10 criteria for selecting plants for decorative compositions
A huge selection of species and varieties of ornamental plants does not simplify the process of planning flower beds, perennials and other garden compositions, since you need to remember a lot. Each plant has its own requirements for growing conditions, care, and even a selection of partners, but the most difficult thing is to find a balance of purely aesthetic characteristics for the composition. Simple criteria can be used not to get confused in the process of selecting the best candidates for the role of a star or a modest partner in decorative ensembles, by which all decorative-leafy and flowering cultures are evaluated.
- How to choose the "right" plants for the flower garden?
- In the beginning - the general idea
- The first step is the separation of soloists and partners
- Height and habit - the basis of the spatial organization of the composition
- The shape of the leaves and the features of their structure
- Large and small leaves and a game with color - the basis of deep contrasts and boring ensembles
- The shape and type of flowering is the most obvious of the design tools.
- Continuous Flowering Relay
- Emotional color
- Visual imperfections and persistence of plants
- Scented clouds where you can enjoy them
How to choose the "right" plants for the flower garden?
Creating flower beds and flower beds, landscape groups, compositions of trees and shrubs, arranging a front garden and a mixborder, gardening on a terrace or recreation area, adding variety to the appearance of a lawn using separate “islands”, introducing seasonal flowering spots and even skeletal plantings - all these are decorative compositions in the garden require careful, careful and balanced planning.
Determining the style, location of plants, the shape and size of the composition, its relationship with the environment and the means of harmonious connection with the garden as a whole, the search for decor and interesting solutions are not simple tasks. But the most difficult to create decorative ensembles is still the selection of plants.
Despite the fact that all garden crops are unique and unique, each species and variety has its own advantages, disadvantages, and features. When creating large or small, seasonal or long-lasting compositions, dozens of factors of plant interaction with each other must be taken into account.
Of course, there are purely practical selection criteria - the same requirements for the soil, its composition, characteristics and lighting. But they, as well as the style of design, a given topic, the nature of the composition and other basic principles for constructing compositions, are selected and determined before they begin to search for a good ratio of plants. This is the so-called basis on which to form a list of candidate plants. But the achievement of the most decorative effect of the composition requires the selection and evaluation of completely different parameters - aesthetic.
Successful selection of partners and the general idea of the composition, the desire for a unique flowering and vibrant personality - all these factors are not so easy to “link” to each other. Many gardeners, especially novices in the arrangement of their plots, often think that the successful planning of a flower garden or a garden is a task that only a professional can accomplish.
But with the acquisition of practice and with an attentive approach, success can be achieved without special knowledge. Moreover, all the “secrets” of designers are those techniques that everyone can apply in practice. And the selection of plants is no exception. After all, in fact, there is no secret knowledge: landscape design is based on the understandable, logical and simple laws of building compositions and the interaction of elements.
In the selection of plants for decorative ensembles there is nothing insignificant: assessment and selection are carried out comprehensively, not forgetting the nature of growth, and the leaves, and flowering, and even seasonality. To achieve the goal of creating a beautiful flower garden or group, in order to achieve maximum decorativeness, it is necessary to evaluate and take into account all the aesthetic parameters without exception, without losing sight of the obvious advantages and disadvantages.
If you put everything “on the shelves”, then the danger of forgetting about something important or losing sight of one of the parameters will immediately disappear. In order not to get confused in the selection of ornamental plants, it is enough to make a list of those signs by which they need to be evaluated - i.e. list of selection criteria.
10 main criteria in the selection of plants:
- Solo, partner or fill character of the plant.
- Plant height and size, bush form or growth form.
- The form, texture and texture of greenery.
- Leaf size.
- The color of the leaves.
- The size of the flower and the type of inflorescences.
- Coloring flowers and inflorescences.
- Timing of flowering.
- Stability of decorativeness or period of decorativeness.
- Smell or lack thereof.
In the beginning - the general idea
It’s worth starting with defining the principles of choosing decorative cultures that take into account all ten evaluation criteria. There are two types of compositions.
Built on the principle of contrast
Constructed by the principle of contrast - ensembles in which plants with opposite characteristics interact. Contrast can capture several characteristics at once or come down to only one of the criteria - the shape of the bush, the size of the leaves, the color and shape of the inflorescences, etc.
The contrasts affecting the foliage and the structure of the bushes (they are called deep, non-obvious contrasts) are always of semantic value, but the most catchy and noticeable contrasts are associated with the most catchy and bright differing signs - flowering (surface contrasts). For example, thuja and spirea, frankincense and daylily, buzulnik and decorative cereals, astilbe and hosta, stonecrops and fescue, rudbeckia and lyatris, roses and delphiniums, and so on, contrast.
Built on the principle of nuance
Constructed according to the nuance principle, these are compositions in which plants are selected so that they have more similar features and common characteristics than differences. In this case, uniformity, nuance is usually created by selecting plants that are similar either in the shape of a bush or inflorescences, or in the color and texture of the plant, adding interest and expressiveness to the compositions by distinguishing themselves in other characteristics.
In fact, the nuance is impossible without contrast, but not the obvious, but the deep, soft, hidden, delicate use of opposites that do not allow the entire ensemble to merge into a continuous boring spot. So, duets of astilba and volzhanka, lychis and wormwood, phlox and violets, dolphinium and lupine, poppy and anemone or purslaka, host and geraniums, cuffs, heichera, etc. will introduce a nuance into ensembles.
The first step is the separation of soloists and partners
All plants in any decorative composition, both on flower beds and groups of trees and bushes, can be divided into three types.
Soloists or accents
They can be safely called visual “beacons”, the main eye-catching and mood-setting cultures. Accents, soloists, focal points, lighthouses - you can’t name such plants, their role will still be decisive and dominant.
Usually, soloists mean large plants, but the main thing is not dimensions, but expressiveness. Soloists are plants with an unusually spectacular shape, catchy foliage or particularly luxurious flowering, interesting in lines, graphics or texture, with clear or extravagant forms that immediately evoke emotions and associations at a glance.
Soloists are always the first to stand out in any company, differ sharply from their surroundings, set the mood for any decorative ensemble, unite a group into a single whole, determine the style, theme or idea of design, seasonality and color palette.
As soloists use flowering shrubs, the most spectacular perennials, recognizable at first glance, standard and trimmed plants. The number of soloists is not limited to one plant; in the composition, you can create several focal points of attraction for the gaze, set the rhythm and dynamics using accents. Roses, hydrangeas, peonies, Rogersia, dicenter, Miscanthus, sheared boxwoods are an example of typical soloists.
These are cultures that are selected for a particular soloist or accent. The main task of the partner plants is the shading and underlining of the soloist, the most effective disclosure of its advantages. It is the partners who give the compositions weight and volume, fill it with colorful flowering, meaning and character, guarantee that the composition will be attractive throughout the year or at least the entire garden season.
Lush plants, capable of creating large interesting spots, stably decorative, with interesting flowering, are usually considered as partner crops. Their main characteristics are dense foliage and expressive beauty, volume. Partners are often lavender, highlander, mint, monard, astilbe, rudbeckia, bluehead, ferns, phlox, geraniums (although geraniums can also play the role of a placeholder).
These are plants that create the background - "close" the planting where necessary, introduce transitions and harmonize perception, mask glades and voids, compensate or hide the shortcomings of partners and soloists. Fill plants create the most vibrant color and seasonal spots and texture background.
The selection of plants begins precisely with the main, dominant crops, for which partner plants are then selected, and the ensemble is completed with placeholders, or background.
Height and habit - the basis of the spatial organization of the composition
Plant height and volume are parameters that determine the vertical structure of compositions, give it interest or, conversely, carry boredom, are responsible for mass balance and filling effect. They are guided by height and bulk, determining the place of the plant in the composition, creating a linear or non-linear vertical structure.
Accounting for different heights and volumes allows you to successfully include the plant in a specific composition, and create a link to the garden as a whole. Tall plants are planted in the background or in the middle, create a visual and vertical center of the composition, used for emphasis, and in compositions with the task of masking or with a one-sided view or linear structure - as a spectacular high background. Low-growing plants are used in the foreground and as a placeholder. Plants are always selected from high to low.
The graphics of the branches, the contours, the nature of the lines are those parameters that are also known as the habitus of the plant. They determine the style and nature of the composition, set the main motives and reveal the idea.
Strict lines or shapes for regular gardens and natural softness for a natural style, playing with geometry and aspect ratio, airy lightness or massiveness, controlling optical effects and “traps”, achieving a balance of elements with different visual “weights” - all these are ensemble parameters, on which affects the physiognomic type of plants. And selection according to habitus is one of the most important criteria for choosing plants for any composition, setting the tone for the whole design and creating the basis of style.
Soloists with expressive habit and invisible partners, accents that attract the eye with lines, can change the appearance of even a modest collection of cultures.
The shape of the leaves and the features of their structure
On whether the plant is perceived as openwork or curly, strict or ornamental, you can build fantastically beautiful combinations. The variety of leaf shapes in plants is great. Playing on the contrasts of elongated lanceolate and round-bud, heart-shaped, xiphoid and cirrus dissected leaves forms the basis for a beautiful interaction.
Leaves of neighboring plants should always vary in shape. But besides this, it is worth considering the texture and texture - the quality and characteristics of the sheet surface, its perception, effect, impression of the mass of leaves.
The texture is created by pubescent or glossy, rough, smooth, dissected, ruffled or wrinkled surfaces, but the nature of fastening, density of arrangement and growth of leaves is a texture. The texture of the leaves creates the effect of living metal, velvet, fabric, makes the plant "shiny" or background, more or less catchy.
The texture determines the perception of the plant and is actually a pattern of chiaroscuro or spots, which creates foliage in its mass. Elements of different textures and textures are the basis on which any expressive composition is built. And the main tool for creating amazingly beautiful and unique ensembles.
Large and small leaves and a game with color - the basis of deep contrasts and boring ensembles
Large-leaved and small-leaved plants, as well as cultures with leaves with a complex palmate or pinnately dissected structure, add additional structure to the composition. This is the simplest and most obvious selection criterion from “hardwood” ones. So, when planting hosts next to geraniums or euonymus, they set the basic contrast that can be successfully seen in the game of textures and shapes.
The color scheme of the leaves is an even simpler tool. In garden plants, in addition to all shades of green color, there are silver, and golden, and bluish, and yellow colors. Variegated and monotonous, dark and light, leaves not only allow you to enter an interesting game of contrasts or nuances, create mood and reveal style, but they are also the most important tool for playing with optical illusions - highlighting compositions, combating uniformity, monotony and gloom.
The shape and type of flowering is the most obvious of the design tools.
The most catchy and obvious tricks with which they determine the nature of the composition and embody its contrasting or nuance principle are the selection of plants with excellent or similar flower shapes and type of inflorescences. It is these two parameters that determine the place of plants in the composition, their interaction with each other, effectiveness, harmony of combinations and the first impression of any ensemble. This is the main tool of style.
Simple, double or semi-double, small or large single flowers and vertical, umbrella, spherical, paniculate and cloud-shaped inflorescences allow you to select plants for specific tasks and make diverse and individual compositions.
In today's assortment of flowering garden plants, there are cultures with similar flowering, differing only in details and palette, allowing you to play on rhythm and repetition, motifs and style. Delphiniums, veronikastrum, aconite, sage, cereals have much more in common with each other than it seems at first glance.
Magnificent decorative bows resonate with phloxes and hydrangeas, yarrow with stonecrops, astilbe with volzhanka and meadowsweet, and astrantia with gypsophila. Such combinations are useful not only for nuance ensembles, but also for complex, hidden repetition and combining of different plants into a single composition.
Continuous Flowering Relay
Due to differences in flowering time, you can create both seasonal, created with an eye for a certain time of the year, and constantly flowering plants. At the same time, you can stay within the same composition, but plan the entire garden in such a way that the flower show is continuous. From primroses in April - to the May bright colors of onions to the colorful beginning of summer, its sunny and fiery middle, unexpected autumn colors - nature has prepared a variety worthy of the artist's palette.
And in accordance with the general concept and idea, you can select plants so that flowering waves pass through the ensembles, spots and gentle smokes flare up, or the beauty of individual cultures is brightly manifested when you want it.Flowering can and should be controlled. And planning is the only way to subjugate the garden parade.
The color scheme of any ensemble controls emotions and mood, style and perception. And if the role of the game of leaf colors does not immediately appear, then in flowering plants everything lies on the surface, is captured by the first impression. Color combinations of flowering cultures control sensory perception, regulate impulses, determine the influence of individual compositions on our behavior and feelings, and are selected individually and in accordance with the style of design.
In order not to get confused in the color scheme and select plants in contrast, harmonious or creating unexpected combinations, you just need to purchase or draw a simple color circle. And even in a table-sphere of eight colors, you can easily find winning combinations and harmonious duets. Contrasts are built on diametrically opposite or close to diametric color combinations.
Depending on how you want to see your composition, you can choose plants with one-color, two-color, three-color, four-color or variegated colors. The more flowers, the more difficult it is to pick them up.
A win-win option is to choose the dominant, main or most catchy color, and to choose partner and neutral colors, as well as diluting plants that add interest to it. Select, as according to the first criterion, color soloists, partners, and background, softening cultures.
When choosing a color, one should not forget about the intensity of lighting, the influence of warm and cold tones, the size of the compositions and the garden as a whole, the environment and the panorama that opens, the need to control optical effects (for example, light, red and yellow flowers bring the long-distance plan, blue and dark - move away and vice versa on the front).
Visual imperfections and persistence of plants
Many garden crops - evergreen species, the most hardy perennials - are equally attractive not only all season, but also in winter. For other plants, in addition to beauty, at the peak of flowering or at the height of the season, bright fruits are typical in autumn or a beautiful bark in winter, a change of “outfits” that adds charm to the garden. But there are also plants that dramatically lose their decorativeness or even disappear after flowering, leaving voids.
When making decorative compositions, one must always remember how stable the plant is in its decorativeness. If it loses its attractiveness and can spoil the look of the flower garden or leave empty spaces, then you need to select partners who compensate for all their shortcomings. Compositions need to be designed so that they impress not only in the midst of flowering. And this rule is respected, even if we are talking about a seasonal ensemble.
Garden compositions should look good, full and fresh in spring, and in summer, and in autumn, and, if possible, in winter. If the ensemble is included in skeletal planting, then it is in the cold season that you can evaluate the quality of its design.
Scented clouds where you can enjoy them
The garden is full of life, movement, colors and aromas. Although the latter are not considered an important criterion for evaluating plants, they cannot be ignored. After all, the use of plants with a pleasant and unpleasant odor can affect the perception of compositions in different ways, bring them to perfection, or, conversely, destroy the whole impression.
Unpleasantly smelling plants, as well as flowers whose aroma you don’t personally like, cannot be used in places of relaxation and active movement in the garden, near the house. They must be left for places that are admired from afar.
Pleasant smells and aromas, on the contrary, are used so that they can be enjoyed. Fragrant plants are planted along paths and alleys, by the terrace, around the recreation area, at the entrance to the house - so that joyful clouds and plumes enhance the pleasure of relaxing and working in your garden. Particular attention should be paid to plants whose aroma is revealed at dusk: their competent use will create a special mood and even consider garden crops as aromatherapists.