Planting plans provide the “icing on the cake” to all of our Earth, Turf, & Wood outdoor living spaces. Plants must serve multiple purposes: screening, erosion control, providing shade, directing views, space definition, balance, seasonal color, organic texture, filling in difficult spaces, providing an architectural feature, providing a barrier or safety feature, absorbing rainwater runoff, sun/shade orientation, accommodating pets, etc., etc. As landscape architect and professional designer, my task is to meld all of my clients’ desires and their site’s specific criteria along with plants’ criteria to create a beautiful picture.

Although bloom color is often the focus for plant choice, another important detail to consider is plant texture. One of my favorite textural plant combinations for semi shaded understory areas of a project are two low growing perennials that prefer a part shade environment. The photo above provides an example of successful juxtapositioning of two plants. A Pulmonaria saccharata ‘Mrs. Moon” (botanical name) otherwise known by its common name: Mrs. Moon Lungwort; combined with a groundcover: Galium odoratum otherwise known as Sweet Woodruff. These two plants offer contrasting textures, colors, and shapes that maximize beauty and interest in the landscape. And there’s more … the added bonus with these two plants is that the Lungwort blooms in early spring (April – May) with intensely blue, pink, and purple bell shaped flower sprays; whereas, the Sweet Woodruff produces tiny, fragrant, singular, regular, white flowers in early summer(mine is still blooming now in July). With texture plus bloom, these two plants offer multiple forms of contrast over nine months of the year!

Similar juxtapositioning is available for your yard – just call me if you would like me to enhance “the icing on your cake” in your back yard environment.


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Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Written by Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Mary Hatch Dresser is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design. Mary has designed landscapes for 32 years and joined ETW exclusively in 2009. Mary is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); and also serves on the Shade Tree Committee in Strasburg Borough where she resides. Mary prides herself in carefully listening to her clients to professionally meld their ideas and personal criteria with sound, experienced design practice.