Landscape Advisories: Chapter 7 / Evergreen and Ever Seen Landscape Framing


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Chapter 7  

Evergreen and Ever Seen Landscape Framing

In our northern landscapes, attending to the winter appearance of a place is a priority since what we see changes dramatically when many of our plants drop their leaves or disappear entirely through a long cold season. Unless you plan in some winter pictures, this can leave an empty feeling in the experience of your outdoors.

The framing design of a property will be described by the forms
you will see and experience in your all year views.
winter pictures

Designing Your  Landscape Framepeastone line

Begin by choosing the placement of ever seen elements.

The buildings, stone and masonry, fences, tree and shrub outlines, furnishings and earth contours – along with your evergreen plant materials – are ever seen parts of your landscape.
Their all year visibility means they are always important, making up the framing on which your all year views depend. Such things should be considered in the first round of design thoughts to allocate the best possible locations and configurations for them.

The evergreens and other ever seen things should make beautiful pictures alone.
In the simplified compositions of winter, the evergreenery and ever seen things will be experienced as a group. You can arrange for complete and satisfying pictures by considering these elements together, thinking of your winter garden as a somewhat separate landscape, while carefully designing plenty of  in-between places for the plants of other seasons.

The quiet, spare landscape of winter is a perfect time to assess what you may want
to add or subtract for your future cold seasons.

line snow Put some Evergreens in the Background and some in the Foreground.
With important roles in all seasons, the sizes and shapes of evergreens are key design choices. Their outlines and density can give body and shape to the winter scene, taking prominence in your cold season views. You will probably want some in the backgrounds, mid grounds and foregrounds.
conifer garden

Well shaped spaces you create between the winter elements provide in-between places for your warm season plant materials.

When the contextual frame always looks good, it is much easier to organise lovely gardens for the warm season plants. A handsome evergreen context lends itself easily to satisfying combinations. For the warm season pictures, all the evergreens can serve as backgrounds, frames or surroundings for deciduous trees, shrubs and colonies of flowering plants.

Click here for other articles about Shaping the Landscape.

“The spaces between the things are just as important as what is in the spaces.”
Allen C. Haskell

Positive and Negative spaces must both have pleasing shapes.
Positive spaces are the ones being considered at the time. The surrounding forms are the negative spaces, the secondary shapes that result. Both of them matter. Each shape you make by design should accommodate and enhance the reciprocal shapes it creates.
When you begin thinking about the negative spaces, they can become the positive spaces at that point in your thoughts, shaped respectfully with their adjoining forms to optimise both.

Cobbles entering the garden

“When negative and positive spaces are reversible no space is wasted.
Every piece contributes to the pattern”
Christopher Alexander

positive and negative space

The framing of your planted compositions might be the floor.
For pictures we see from above, the floor layer becomes the background and frame of our view, and can unify the picture. The carpeting effect of many evergreen groundcovers together is satisfying year round. Also pleasing is that in earliest spring, woodland plants and small bulbs can emerge between and through green blankets instead of brown ground.

Levinson Garden

Don’t make the Backgrounds of your planting places too Busy.
Backgrounds should be simple enough to flatter what will be seen against them. If there is too much diversity in the background, whether plant materials or built structures, the things in front may not show well.

Hosta, Epimedium and Rodgersia

 Every foreground element benefits from a considered background, and vice versa.
Consider your structure colors in relation to the things that will be seen against them. You will often want some contrast between the elements seen together in a view so as to perceive each at its best. Red foliage will show better against weathered grey wood than the red barn. Green houses are often the wrong green when seen close to the true greens of nature, and green on green can get visually muddled.

DoorMaple2‘Something dark, Something light, ..
.Something dull, Something bright.’

….Old Saw from the Decorator’s trade

Alternating heavy foliage and fine, putting light leaves against dark ones, glossy against matte, each enhancing the other through contrast, is a simple strategy which can be planned in to add interest.

Textural variety in plants allows the same lighting to have various effects on the picture. Evergreen  foliage comes in a fantastic range of textures, matte to glossy, corrugated to velvety. There are varying leaf shapes and sizes running from tiny to huge. Each type reflects or absorbs light in its own way at any given moment in time.
The enhancing effect of thoughtful combinations is something you can orchestrate.

Don’t use too many strikingly different plants all together in a view.
When you choose the plant materials for a given landscape picture, you will be looking for pleasing groups with respect to colors, forms and textures. Your elements, whether planted or built, should be beautiful with their particular surroundings as well as by their individual character. Strongly divergent plant personalities may work best with some degrees of separation, in different views perhaps.

Click here for more of my articles concerning Views.

Nursery gone wrongIf you use too many different diverse plants or colors all together your place may look more like a garden center than a composed garden.
As with most things, the number of pleasing solutions is outnumbered by the possible displeasing ones.

Some combinations are more compatible than others.
Among the many beautiful conifers and broadleaf plant materials available, the foliage may have bright or soft yellows, greys, blue greens, purples, mahogany, magenta, lavender or pink tones. We don’t have to use them all together to have them. Many pleasing groupings can be made by using evergreen color forms in considered combinations. Pinus hillside creeper, fukozumi, Picea montgomerey, CotinusUse alternate color family associations in separate pictures.
If you bring together things that have suitable ecological preferences and complementary forms and colors, you can organize these in a given view, but remember that you don’t need to use all of the possibilities in a given view. Alternative color groups of companionable sociations can be used in separate views. This is the most reliable solution for harmonies if you want to use alot of colors and kinds overall on your property. Evergreen hues you select for a part of your garden will need to complement the colors of the warm season plants in that place.

Plan in pleasing winter surprises.
The white winter outlining of things brings out the essence of every shape, whether trees, sculptures or buckets. sax player collage Some features of your landscape may be invisible for many months, covered in effervescent foliage once the perennials get going, and seen again only when the ground is cleaned in fall. Placing them where you will enjoy their reappearance in the composition of the off season will perhaps prompt you to say ‘Hello old friend, good to see you’, well, maybe not out loud…

granite acorn

LINK to Chapter 8: Choosing Stone and Hard Materials

My Best,
Ellen Cool

A Reasoned
Landscape Composition.
Stonework and Garden Design.

Unusual Plant Materials, Troughs
Tools and Antique Garden Ornaments

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