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.
'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.