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Creating a vibrant garden
CREATING A VIBRANT AND LIVELY GARDEN
Some people like serenity in their garden, but others want an environment that is alive and vibrant.
It all depends on the sort of person you are, and the sort of environment you want to create around yourself. Extraverts probably lean towards vibrant gardens. If you are in a stressful job during the week, you may be more comfortable with a quieter environment at home.
The creation of a vibrant and lively garden is about lifestyle, design flair and innovation. In some cases it may involve following a method or plan to achieve the goal. In other cases, it is about letting go all the pent up artistic flair within you to design a unique feature.
The design needs to match your capacity for construction (time and cost) and maintenance. A good design will have low maintenance. Alternatively, your desire may be to use annuals which may involve more maintenance throughout the year. The choice is all yours.
People who like to hold lively parties require a different garden design to people who like privacy and seclusion.
Consider how you interact with your garden:
* Do you want this new garden design to be interactive (where you can walk through it and interact?)
* Do you want it to be purely aesthetic with no interaction?
There are lots of ways you can add colour to your garden. Plants are the most popular choice for home gardeners and designers. However other items worth considering for colour include gravel and pebbles, paving and tiles, other ceramics and art work.
Flowers are the obvious way; but many flowers only occur for a short period of the year. If you want sustained colour from flowers, you need to choose the flowers you grow very carefully.
This is a major reason why roses are so popular (they flower for long periods, up to 6 months or more in some places). Annuals (eg. Marigolds, Petunias and Pansies) also flower for long periods, but then they die. If you are lucky, you can get 3 months or more of continual colours from annuals, but you have the disadvantage of needing to replant periodically.
Colour can also come from the foliage of plants. There are plants that have all sorts of different colours in the leaves (eg. reds, yellows, greens, greys, silver, purple, etc); and with some, the colour will change from time to time throughout the year.
There are other plants (trees mainly) that have particularly stunning colours in the bark, and when used appropriately, they can really lift an otherwise drab garden.
Suggested Plants for Colour:
Flowers: daisies, salvias, bulbs, impatiens, vinca, lobelia, alyssum, marigolds, dianthus, geraniums, etc
Fruits/berries: Cotoneaster, lillipillies, cumquats, oranges, lemons, etc
Foliage: Maples, Liquidambar, Parthenocissus, ivy, cordylines, crotons, New Zealand flax, etc
Bark: maples, leopard trees, crepe myrtles, birch, snow gums, etc
GRAVEL & PEBBLES
Gravel and pebbles can be used around water features, around garden beds (as a mulch) or as a walking surface in outdoor living areas. You can get gravel or pebbles in many different colours. The colours available in an area (and their cost) will depend upon the mineral deposits and quarries that are local.
These materials may be found in shades of red, brown, white, grey, yellow, cream…etc.
PAVING & TILES
Paving can come in a wide range of colours; and tiles even more. Both offer a hard wearing surface that is ‘clean and crisp’ to look at and maintain. They are used predominately in well structured designed gardens as a path or outdoor living zone. The patterns in which they are laid can sometimes be as important as the colour of the paver or tile, and the grout used.
Tiles are not appropriate to every type of garden, but in the right setting they can lift a plain structure and make it stunning. Tiles can be laid to partly or fully cover walls, pillars, ponds, seats, tables, paths, ceilings (of gazebos, etc). Tiles are frequently used to accentuate a Mediterranean theme.
Strategic use of other ceramics as wall plaques, planters and statuary can do wonders for small areas. They can lift a drab pokey corner up to an interesting stylistic grotto?.
With a strategically placed external light, the night scene can become a theatre, albeit small.
MIXING & MATCHING
If you want to create contrast, put contrasting colours together. If you want more subdued effects, mix similar colours. You will achieve a lively effect with a predominance of warm colours like reds, yellows or browns. A less busy effect, if you want a more relaxed atmosphere, will be achieved with a predominance of cooler colours like blues, whites, greys and greens.
Article by John Mason and staff of ACS Distance Education.