Color in the landscape

rosecavalier(3 AB)November 20, 2013

As I post this message, we have a wind chill of -40C, and I look outside through my front window. The landscape is devoid of color with the wonderful exception of Colorado blue & green spruce contrasting with the white snow.

To me, the contrast has a similar effect upon the psyche...although not as, say a fire in a glass window woodstove while sitting in a room in complete darkness...or walking under a fresh chartreuse canopy of trembling aspen in the spring...or driving past a canola field in bloom in early summer when everything else is green.

What makes a landscape appeal to you? How do you incorporate contrast in your gardening if you do think it has value? Do you have any photos to share?

As a contrast to the conditions outside, I've included a photo that illustrates a landscape without too much color...but to my eye is very effective.

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That is a very interesting photo, I love the structure and pleasing contrasting colors and textures and focusing upon the one guy who dares to be different. I attempt to make my surroundings as colorful and interesting as possible and for the most part that begins with the careful placement of conifers. We were very fortunate to have found this property, the contour and lay of the land is outstanding and most generously sprinkled with large beautiful birch trees and many very attractive native plants such as wild roses and the long blooming bedstraw and classy looking rough fruited fairy bells ⦠oh, and not to forget the dogwood, hazelnuts, chockcherries, saskatoons and wild clematis that in spring are covered in a profusion of bloom. I love lots of color and many areas are saturated, though in other locations IâÂÂve just worked with the native surrounding and cleaned things up and incorporated interesting specimen plants.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:23AM
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I really have no plan. Just buy plants I like and then look for a place to plant. Mostly perennials. This what my beehive looked like last year.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 10:10PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Me too, though i do have a white garden and an area where there's lots of red and yellow. Just throw things into the ground and hope they look good!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 10:35PM
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shillanorth Z4 AB

I look for plants that can handle the sun, wind and gravelly, sandy, lumpy clay soil!!!!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 11:08PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I like a variety of shapes, heights and textures in a garden. Colour is definitely secondary for me.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Very pretty

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 9:58AM
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We spend a lot of time in the veggie garden and have made it a very colorful place. Lately, we've been adding more year round interest with the placement of conifers and upright blue junipers that are such great punctuation marks in the landscape. I am lessening the use of annuals in favor of perennials and shrubs ... though, yes, the veggies will remain, lol.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 7:58PM
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shillanorth Z4 AB

Oh my goodness - that is a stellar garden - just beautiful!!!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 9:46PM
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What awesome pictures posted here. It's always nice to see them, particularly during the time of year when there's snow on the ground .

twrosz You have what I assume are beets, then cabbage , and then......

What are the taller plants next to the cabbage, on the right middle section of your picture?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 10:19AM
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rosecavalier(3 AB)

Terry...your comment "begins with careful placement of conifers" demonstrates the result of years of time spent gardening...I wish the internet had existed when I had started work on my backyard. It seems like it has taken most of a lifetime to see what plants would survive, what my microclimates were, and how I could modify existing microclimates to be more plant friendly..but it sure has been fun!

Really appreciate the photos showing the "Herculean" efforts
northern gardeners have gone create their own Edens. And everyone's Eden appears to be a work in progress...trying out new ideas...just wonderful.

Northspruce...I found your comment...color is secondary...very interesting. I'm including a photo that expands the concept of texture and shape...and parallels somewhat what I see in Terry's veggie garden.

Cabbage as contrast...mmm. and why not throw in a rose standard.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 11:25AM
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ostrich(3a AB)

twrosz, that is absolutely STUNNING!

It's so gorgeous that i don't even want to pick the veggies now.... LOL

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 11:44AM
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I had been thinking that those cabbages were looking good and would make for a very nice photo :) ... we then went onto harvest our best ever crop of storage cabbage.

nutsaboutflowers, those are fava beans, I don't recall what variety (from Thompson and Morgan) though, they emit a beautiful soft fragrance for weeks on end.

Yes, it's fun to see what others are creating and evolving within their spaces. Since this place is relatively new from the literal ground up, I'm still in the process of building the bones and always do lots of head scratching selecting and positioning conifers and evergreens and deciduous trees and shrubs ... then, the perennials and annuals find their place among them.

rosecavalier, the colors and textures of that photo have my eyes bouncing all over the place, I mean in a calming good way. Apparently, edible crops have been used in a very pleasing visual manner ... who knew that cabbage, lettuce, boxwood and standard roses could looks soooo good together! Now, I just wish boxwood and tree roses were fully hardy here!

ostrich, I'm looking forward to seeing how your new place evolves in Calgary.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 8:17PM
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rosecavalier(3 AB)

Terry...your statement about "edible crops being used in a pleasing manner" was reflected in even more ways in this garden. In the photo below, to my astonishment, apple trees were being used like boxwood...the apple trees trunks were about 4" in diameter but stood only 2 ft high! Wonder if Konrad has played with pruning techniques like this.

At first sight, I didn't realize that this wonderful garden was designed around edible vegetables and herbs...they even used horseradish as a landscape plant...all edible art...something like sushi!

The Garden at Villandry, France. They used climbing roses, treeroses, and the odd smaller tree as contrast anchors...not unlike what you are doing with your placement of evergreens....lots of straight lines for a more formal appearance.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 9:58AM
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What I'd give to have a climate similar to France! I especially like the idea of small evergreen hedges to frame and enclose plantings ... though, we cold zoners are very limited in that regard. I've only come across a few boxwood plantings situated in a north facing aspect that have performed well until a low snowfall winter dried them to a crisp. Previously, I had a used dwarf 'Danica' cedars, but these also need to be covered over in snow and often dehydrate badly in early spring. For a very attractive specimen plant, I extensively use 'Moffat Blue' upright juniper, this compact selection is superior to 'Wichita Blue' and 'Moonglow'. For several years, these have been available at Walmart, one gallon plants being especially affordable in price.

At some point I'd like to train an espalier apple tree!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 5:09PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Terry, how tall do those upright junipers get? I looked at Moonglow in the fall but didn't buy it. I want something evergreen for the birds, and i'd like to put it close to the house so i don't want one that gets too big. The dwarf Alberta spruce has been a dismal failure and cedars are out of the question as they're just expensive deer feed around here. Any advice?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 9:16AM
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Marcia ... from what I was able to search, âÂÂMoffat Blueâ can get to be about 9 ft x 2 ý wide, though that would take a very long time, as itâÂÂs slow to put on height because the leader has a tendency to want to go sideways before growth continues upward ... though, the dense branching habit is very pleasing and sets this selection apart from others. If youâÂÂd like something faster growing, then IâÂÂve also been pleased with âÂÂMedora', though it's more of a bluish gray, rather than the bright silvery blue of 'Moffat Blue'. IâÂÂll try to remember to post photos come next spring. These both are very good alternatives to 'Wichita Blue' and 'Moonglow'.

I really enjoy the colors and textures of this photo and how it captures the feeling of summer :)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 12:58AM
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BTW, Marcia, you can successfully grow dwarf Alberta spruce in zone 3 ... if planted out of the winter and early spring sun and until the frost has come out of the ground in April. I have 'Sander's Blue' planted on the north side of my garage and it always comes through with no problem whatsoever. It was previously in the open garden where it would badly burn each spring.

I found a photo of 'Moffat Blue' juniper that shows the very nice branching habit it develops.

Here is a link that might be useful: 'Moffat Blue' juniper

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 1:30AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Unfortunately, the spot i want the evergreen for is right in the sun facing south, so i guess that was not ideal for the spruce. I knew it needed protection, and covered it the first couple of years and then shielded it as per advice from somewhere. It still had a lot of winterkill and really doesn't look great now. I put a small flower bed in front of it so that the dead brown parts are hidden.

Thanks for the advice on 'Moffat Blue'. I'll be on the lookout for it. I'm not sure if it will be available around here, but one of the guys from the local nursery will bring things in from Winnipeg.

By the way, Terry, your garden picture - the first one with the cabbages in it - made it as Garden Web's photo of the day today! Congrats!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 9:18AM
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