How do you combine plants to make an impact in the landscape?
Picture yourself at the supermarket checkout counter. There are razors, batteries, breath mints, lip balm, nail clippers and assorted other items. All useful, all functional but they certainly don’t all go together. They are not companion products though you can buy them all at once.
It is much the same with plants and how we design with them. Each plant may have a singular beauty and multiple uses, but not all planting combinations are good companions.
Selecting good companion plants is critical for a strong landscape presentation. What makes two plants better companions than two other plants? There are four basic qualities that I ascribe to plants: Texture, form, color and size.
Understanding the difference between contrasting or blending color, texture and form is part of the design process.
Mixing a fine leaf like Astilbe with the solid foliage of Rhododendron creates contrast. Mixing a group of small leaved Azaleas with Rhododendron creates a quieter blend of foliage. Using a large field of red poppies with a lone white coneflower will create high contrast. Both techniques work nicely in the landscape.