I love texture

I love color in the garden, I love fragrance, but above all, I love texture. True, mass plantings of the same species can create an elegant and tranquil effect, but for me there’s nothing like juxtaposing plants with different leaves: large vs. small, wide vs. narrow, coarse vs. fine. You get the idea. I like excitement and drama—I will admit I’m a bit of a Ganna Walska at heart—and nothing gives me a jolt of adrenaline like opposing textures.


Yellow lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa) in front of giant clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) and variegated Eureka lemon (Citrus limon ‘Eureka Variegated Pink’)

I was reminded of that a few days ago when I took advantage of a rare cloudy morning to take some photos in the front yard. Now that many of the herbaceous perennials have hit their stride, vignettes of rivaling textures are everywhere.


Karley Rose grass (Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’) and Hot Lips sage (Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’)

130601_Salvia-Hot-Lips- -Russian-sage

Hot Lips sage (Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’) and dwarf Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’)

130601_Gaura- -Nepeta-Walker-Low

Six Hills Giant catmint (Nepeta × faassenii 'Six Hills Giant') and butterfly gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)

130601_Bambusa-oldhamii- -Miscanthus-sinensis-Gracillimus-Nana_

Giant clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) and dwarf maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus Nana’)


Grosso lavender (Lavandula × intermedia ‘Grosso’) and Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa)

130601_Northern-sea-oats- -Juncus-patens

Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and California gray rush (Juncus patens)

130601_Canna-indica- -Salvia-involucrata 130601_Senecio-vitalis- -Agave-Red-Margin

LEFT: Roseleaf sage (Salvia involucrata) and canna lily (Canna indica)
RIGHT: Agave ‘Red Margin’ and Senecio vitalis

130601_Salvia-apiana- -Eriocephalus-africanus

LEFT: White sage (Salvia apiana)
RIGHT: African rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus)

130601_Sphaeralcea-Newleaze-Coral- -Rudbeckia-subtomentosa-Henry-Eilers 130601_Perovskia-atriplicifolia-Little-Spire- -Salvia-x-sylvestris

LEFT: Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ and Sphaeralcea ‘Newleaze Coral’
RIGHT: Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’ and Salvia × sylvestris (forgot the cultivar name)


Aloe striata seeds in front of Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’. The seeds are short-lived because I will cut down the flower stalk very soon but for now I’m enjoying the contrast every time I walked out through the front door.


  1. Same here Gerhard, I love the visual drama of contrasting (and complementing) foliage and flowers grouped together.

    Some very fine vignettes there!

  2. Agreed! It's the interplay of foliage textures that really makes a garden a feast for the eyes. Color too of course, but texture is much more important I think. Love the Chasmanthium with the Juncus!

  3. Such a good visual reminder of how important mixing textures can be. I tend toward so many of the thin strappy leaves I really need to work to incorporate other sizes and shapes.

  4. You have some great textures there, the first and last photos especially, the Aloe beans with the Agave, love that. I wish I had more big leaves in the garden, but we have those strong winds--big leaves shred, and they also like shade, which is in short supply. Your Musella leaves look wonderful.


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