Creating Tactile and Visual Texture in the Garden Landscape

Providing textural interest in the landscape means providing contrasts of texture—both in look and feel.

Manitoba Co-Operator
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You may have heard the phrase, “Use texture to create interest in the garden,” but what exactly does that mean?

Many relate to texture by the sense of touch—is the surface rough or smooth? If you run your hand over a leaf of lamb’s ears, you get the sensation of a fuzzy warm surface, whereas an iris leaf feels smooth and slick.

Besides the sense of touch, in a landscape, there is also visual texture—how various surfaces look provides the eye with a wide range of textures. Items may appear smooth or rough, patterned, soft or hard, solid or airy, shiny or dull. The visual texture of a large canna leaf that appears smooth and solid is different from the foliage of a clump of blue lyme grass that appears light and billowy.

Therefore, providing textural interest in the landscape means providing contrasts of texture. In a flower border, plants with smooth leaves can be put beside those with fuzzy or heavily veined foliage. In a container, a canna and a Mahogany Splendor hibiscus provide contrast with the canna being visually substantive and smooth, while the foliage of the hibiscus is much more ruffled and airy. The difference in color also enhances the contrast.

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