Eye-Catching: Using Focal Plants

Focal plants can entice you into a garden, distract you from less-than-stellar views or catch your eye within the garden's perimeter. Allow them their glorious time in the limelight, and plan the rest of the garden around them.

Excerpted from Garden Design
  • Dramatic Yucca Flowers

    Watching Sculptural Shapes Unfold

    Many plants have naturally architectural shapes: Japanese maples, alternate-leaf dogwood and New Zealand flax grow into art all on their own. A single plant's display (here a yucca) can be the seasonal climax of a whole section of a garden.

  • Sprawling Garden

    Handle Carefully

    Take care that a single fast-growing plant, like boxleaf honeysuckle, does not become an unplanned focal plant by taking over the garden

  • Pampas Grass Late Summer Display

    Scene Stealer

    Focal plants can hold the planting together, giving it an essential cohesion. Pampas grasses have considerable stature, even when they are not in flower. Their late summer display makes them the natural focus of attention.

  • Japanese Acers Provide Vibrant Fall Foliage

    Color Care

    Very few plants can offer season-long color, but you can still get greate effects from even a short burst of activity. While azaleas and witchalder create interest in the fall, winter is a great time to let deciduous plantings' stark boughs and stems grab your attention; think birches, willows, dogwoods and shastas.

    Acers steal scenes when their foliage fires up in fall. Position them carefully among more subdued colors so they can really shine.

  • Cercis Siliquastrum, Judas Tree

    Come Closer

    The vibrant pink, pea-like flowers of the Judas tree appear before the leaves in early spring. The tree's form provides a focus at other times of the year.

  • Hydrangea Flowers are Beautiful All Year Round

    Triple Take

    Hydrangea flowers are great value: colorful when fresh in summer, ethereally beautiful when faded in fall and stunning in winter with a dusting of frost.

  • Fun Topiary Shapes

    Have Fun With Topiary

    Many plantings can be trained and pruned to take on any number of eye-drawing forms: striking or whimsical, hard-lined or swirly. Consider green luster Japanese holly or privet for your topiary needs.

    Here yew, trained through a giant topiary frame, reaches out and invites you into the garden.

  • Birch Trees are Dramatic in Winter Sunlight

    In the Limelight

    Large scale centerpieces, these birch trees are made all the more arresting with dramatic winter sunlight.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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