Good Garden Design

By Kent Higgins

Color, texture, structural form, and areas of space are the implements of design, the materials of which it is composed. Here, there is no substitute for personal taste and creativity. Rules like those for the use of complementary or contrasting colors, the play of soft textures against hard are made only to be broken if the effect is carefully conceived and executed.

Your patio planters, for example, may present a striking picture because they contain flowers in assorted brilliant colors; next door, your neighbor may use only shades of pink and white for equal pleasure. Even a combination of shades of green can be enticing, particularly if textures and light or shadow are used in some original manner.

Using Vines Decoratively

Effective decorating, then, begins with the elements of good design. But with the addition of your own discrimination and originality, the fun begins. Before using vines and hanging plants for indoor or outdoor decoration, try to visualize the whole picture - the room or wall, or the whole garden area. Try to "see" in your mind all elements in relation to each other and to the situation. Then, select plants and containers that suit your intention and create the picture you have in mind.

To demonstrate some basic principles of design, create some abstract shapes to represent various elements - a rectangle might be a bookcase against a wall; a small square could be the vine in a bracket above it; a long, thin shape might be a vine trained horizontally, or hanging or climbing vertically. The whole area might be the wall of a room or of a garden. Cutting out similar shapes and moving them about within an area in proportionate scale may help you visualize any effect you want to create.

These design principles are applied or adapted to using vines decoratively indoors (interior decoration), outdoors (landscaping), and in the specific category of container gardening.

Because plants are decorative only if they are well grown and healthy, it is important to provide the right cultural practices for vines and cycad plant in pots, baskets, planters, containers, and in the garden. These are general principles; specific culture for specific vines may need to be addressed for certain plants. Methods of propagating vines and combating insects and disease is also an issue which needs to be addressed.

Visit and search the web for cultural information on hardiness that should help determine whether each vine is considered an indoor or outdoor plant in any or all of the widely varying climates across the country. What's grown indoors in Boston may likely flourish outdoors the year round in Tallahassee; some plants that enjoy cool Northwestern summers can't take the heat in southern Texas; and those that need protracted below-freezing temperatures to force them into a restful dormancy would pine away where a warm climate keeps them growing all the time.

Also for each vine or group of vines should have some general suggestions on the suitable type of indoor or outdoor decoration - hanging baskets, container-garden accents, shades or screens over arches and pergolas, for example. - 29857

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