Monday, September 2, 2013

Layers and Repetitions

 Although selecting plants from an exclusively prairie palette limits the range of colors available, the use of design is still an important tool available to the prairie gardener.  This garden features layering of plants in horizontal bands from various points from which the garden is typically viewed.  Using plants in long narrow bands perpendicular to the line of observation is a way to maximize the visual depth of the space.  This fairly small prairie front yard looks deeper than it is due to such layers.

There are two repeated elements that further organize the aesthetics of this garden.

One is the repeated use of the tall yellow coneflower. The heights of the plants serves as a background layer that also hides pockets of the garden from view, so that they can be revealed as the observer moves around the space.  The repeated use of this yellow color as well as others that flower earlier and later provide a constant against which other colors wax and wane.  During some parts of the season, there is more pink, during others, more white, and various purple flowering plants come and go, but yellow is always there.

Another repeated element that is present even before flowers appear and long after flowering is completed is prairie dock.  The large bold leaves stand in contrast to the finer foliage of most other prairie grasses and forbs, and remains into the winter as large dried curled structural elements.  The garden has lines of compass plant that organize it into shapes and in other places, large clumps that move the eye from point to point around the garden space.