Friday, August 19

Color vs. Texture: Which is Your Favorite Type of Contrast?

I posted a LOT of silvery shots yesterday for the August Foliage Follow-Up, so I thought that it might also be interesting to show the only two non-silver photos that ended up on my hard drive after my foliage-focused garden tour. After uploading the photos, I realized that they illustrate two very different types of contrast that I play with in my garden: Color contrast, and texture contrast.

Mega-watt color contrast:
Green 'Chubby Fingers' sedum, dark 'Chocolate Chip' ajuga and golden creeping jenny mingle amiably on the edge of the driveway garden.  In a closeup photo like this, you can see some textural contrasts as well... but in the grand scheme, when you are viewing the garden from normal height, these small-scale groundcovers all provide a similar, fine texture for the garden floor.

Textural contrast:
'Hameln' pennisetum, sedum spurium* and oakleaf hydrangea. All three plants feature a medium shade of green, with reddish/brownish accents in their flowers, stems and leaves... but the oakleaf hydrangea leaves are bold, and the fine-textured sedum and grass differ in leaf shape for additional textural interest.

Foliage contrast is much more obvious, of course. It's like the tight minidress that flaunts a woman's assets and leaves little to the imagination. Textural contrast, to continue the fashion analogy, is more like the dress that looks demure from the front but is (surprise!) completely backless and drop-dead sexy.  I enjoy using both kinds of contrast in my garden, along with some plant form contrast thrown in for good measure. (And a few areas of low contrast, too, to give the eye a place to rest.)

So what kind of contrast do you all employ in your own gardens? Do you tend to steer clear of all contrast, or do you find that one type of contrast is more pleasing than another to your eye?  I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this... particularly as a have a few garden areas to revamp in the coming year!

*Note: At various times, I have purchased 'Voodoo', 'Fuldaglut' and 'Dragon's Blood' sedum spurium, and each has been moved and transplanted so often that I have no idea which one(s) are in any particular area of the garden. They are much easier to tell apart in the springtime when their foliage colors are strongest--during the summer, as you can see above, they mostly fade to green. 'Voodoo' tends toward a chocolate or grayish red color, 'Dragon's Blood' to deep red, and 'Fuldaglut' often has a glow of bright green on the centers of its red leaf tips in the spring. I would recommend any or all of them for planting, if you are so inclined.


greggo said...

Love it. Fine texture is cool and subtle. Like your garden, and thanks for the info on Beatlemania. Saavy.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I like the texture and color contrast. A friend of mine asked me if I did the color contrast on purpose. Ha... I sure hope so.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Greggo! Glad to share the Beatlemania photo--I really like that plant. If you were closer, I would just share some. :)

Greenbow Lisa, HA! That made me grin... I can't imagine asking an artist if she did color or contrast anywhere "on purpose?" *grin*

Gail said...

I like color and texture contrasts, and wish I was better at them all. When I really need something to jazz up a planting I often throw in a contrasting container. Especially in my too green native plants only shade garden. gail

joey said...

So about contrast, Kim ... always enjoy your posts ... it's what gardens are all about. Each plant in my garden has a handsome companion friend (at least I hope to think) and why they should (not always so) thrive together as friends.

Motormouth said...

I believe I can see you silver large Kalanchoe on the right!!! Its a favourite of mine..grew in cali and in uk for a bit....just need alot of space!!!

scottweberpdx said...

That's a good question...I guess my answer would have to be...It Depends! hahaha! Seriously though, that 2nd shot with the grasses and the Hydrangea...stunning!

Unknown said...

Gail, who needs contrasting plants when you have things like awesome purple fences?! I don't have room for fun things like that, so I have to get my contrast from plants, that's all. ;)

Joey, that's such a lovely way to think about it. Leave it to you to phrase it so eloquently!

motormouth, I LOVE silver kalanchoe! But, sadly, it's not so happy here--except maybe in a pot. So that is actually sea kale, which I believe you should be able to grow very well over there in the UK! In fact, I think I first saw it in a Welsh garden photo...

Scott, ha! Good point. Sometimes I like one, sometimes another... sometimes, even, both. (Or neither. :-D) Thanks for the compliments on that second picture. Seriously, though, I have a feeling the oakleaf hydrangea is doing all of the work for me there--I have yet to see a setting in which that plant doesn't look amazing. Love it!

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