Friday, December 7, 2012

Odd Composition Rule in Landscaping

Thanks so much to Christa for inviting me to write a few words on her blog.  My name is Kenny Lowry.  My wife Shannon and I own Southern Grace located in Madison, Va. 

I caught the gardening bug when I was in my late twenties; some of the trees I planted back then are now over 40' tall, so my twenties were many tree rings ago.  Creating beautiful landscapes is one of the most rewarding activities in my life.  I love to hike, so my favorite landscapes tend to be inspired by nature.  I like to recreate landscapes I find on my hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Boulders, plants, streams of water, dry streams, and waterfalls are some of the many different ways mother nature does her landscaping up in the mountains.  So bringing some of that down to our gardens around our homes offers a unique way to landscape, not something you are going to see that often.  I encourage you to take the time to really look the next time you are hiking in the mountains, you will notice that nature is the best landscape designer of all.       

Seneca Creek, WV

Christa discussed using odd numbers in her arrangements (see 11/25/2012 Post).  This odd composition rule also applies to landscaping.  Plants usually look best when grouped in uneven numbers; I usually like to place flowers, shrubs, and boulders in groups of three.  This comes through trial and error over many years of planting and landscaping.  Before I plant, I like to close my eyes, gather the plants together in my mind, and mentally paint my landscape.  Because I usually end up choosing odd numbers, I know it's the correct way and not just a text book way of landscaping; if it came from within, it's the correct way.  We all have the ability to see when something just doesn't look right, maybe it's out of balance, etc., but not everyone can quite put their finger on what's wrong.  You need to set back and envision your painting before you actually start digging the holes.  Study your landscape long enough and the solution will come to you naturally.  Practice makes perfect.

Cedarmere Farm
simple three

You can use different plants in your rule of three.  In the picture below, we used a lace leaf japanese maple, a clematis (used as a ground cover), and a hosta.  There are other plants in this picture too, but your eyes are drawn to those three prominent plants.  Again, your eyes tell you that the odd number composition just looks right.  Balance is what we are after in the garden.  

Southern Grace
lace leaf japanese maple, clematis, and hosta in Asian Garden

I like to incorporate other elements in my landscaping.  Rocks and boulders are some of my favorites; another is dry streams if you have the room in your garden.  Mossy or lichen covered rocks surrounded by flowers is one of the most beautiful sights you'll ever see.  The rough texture of the stone is softened by the delicate petals of the flowers - throw in a beautiful butterfly on the flower and you have a masterpiece.

Cedarmere Farm
adding boulders to the mix

Cedarmere Farm
juniper resting on boulder

Remember, there is no wrong way.  It's your garden after all.  Grouping plants together and adding other elements to suit your taste is what makes a garden a reflection of you. 

                                                                                                 Kenny Lowry

Southern Grace, Madison, VA

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