Your Personal Oasis: Choose Your Plants
In college, a new world opened up to me. I took a plant identification class and discovered for the first time the names of the plants I grew up with. It was like meeting old friends—the little shrub with the blue berries and pink flowers, the big shrub that was my refuge when I played hide 'n' seek, the narcissus bulbs my mother had planted before I was born that came up year after year, and that one shrub with the lavender flowers that always had ants all over it.
I couldn't wait to learn more about plants and how to use them in designing spaces. They became my new medium with their abundant colors, textures, shapes, and forms. And unlike a painting or pastel drawing, the finished "canvas" would change over time—seasonally and annually. In addition, so many sensory qualities came into play, including scent, touch, and taste—a true artist's delight.
Choosing plants for your garden is a very personal process. Now that you've analyzed your site, defined the structure and function of your garden, explored your personal tastes, and created a master plan, it is time to pick the plants. If you've gotten this far into the process without succumbing to an impulsive shopping spree at the nursery, congratulations! You've beaten the odds. Many people buy a bunch of plants they like first, and then come home to see where to put them, usually resulting in a hodgepodge of random plants and a patchwork garden with no clear form or function.
Many people buy a bunch of plants they like first, and then come home to see where to put them, usually resulting in a hodgepodge of random plants and a patchwork garden with no clear form or function. A successful design builds upon a cumulative layering so that the plants punctuate and express your intent and creative vision.
Before you run to the nursery or open up that catalogue, be aware of the main factors—site conditions, vision, character, and function—that influence which plants to select and where to place them. In addition, refer to Chapters 4 and 5 for additional design criteria.