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Excerpted from an article by Dean Fosdick/Associated Press

“The most popular element in landscape design is color, but texture is another important building block. Texture in gardening can be seen as well as felt, and is used primarily to provide contrast.

Color lacks dimension without texture, which can soften spaces, provide visual interest, fashion backdrops and set moods.  “It takes a different kind of eye to appreciate texture in the garden,” said Susan Barton, a University of Delaware horticulturist.  “We’re all programmed to recognize color, but once you start looking for texture, you can appreciate it.”

Landscape design comprises five basic principles:  scale, balance, repetition, dominance and unity, said Rebecca Finneran, a horticulturist with the Michigan State University Extension program.  “The tools we use to achieve these are use of line, form, color and texture,” Finneran said.  “Leaves, flowers, stems and bark can add “texture” to the visual.  Certain times of the year or day will accentuate this.  Even a pot or paving material can add textural difference.”

Plant texture varies from coarse to fine.  Coarse-textured favorites include cannas, elephant ear, coleus, hydrangea and horse chestnut…all are dramatic and bold.  “They draw the eye because of their differences or contrast in shape or appearance,” Finneran said.  “They dominate groupings.”

Most plants are said to be medium in texture, and generally are used to link fine and coarse arrangements in large settings.  Examples include impatiens, daisies, camellias and viburnum.  Fine- textured plants generally have smaller foliage.

The subtle use of texture also can create a sense of scale and distance.  Placing coarse-textured plants closest to the observer with medium plants in the middle and fine-textured assortments in the rear makes the settingssappear more distant.  Reversing that, with coarse-textured plants in the background and fine-textured varieties up front tends to make gardens look smaller.”

SOURCE:  Dean Fosdick/Associated Press     IMAGE:  diynetwork.com

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