Landscape Elements: Framing

Framing will be the focus of our landscape elements this week.  A general principal in landscaping is to have plants of different sizes, textures, shapes, and heights within a planting bed.   We discussed anchor plants in depth last time and how they add height to the outer corners of your design.

Framing is the use of taller plants (usually not as tall as anchor plants) that “frame” a window, doorway, arch, gate or similar architectural feature.  They help soften the straight lines of these features as seen in this picture.  The height of these plants helps add depth to your landscape design when planted next to shorter shrubs of varying heights.

Many houses have symmetrical windows on the left and right of the house’s center.  Using the same plant variety frames on both sides creates symmetry in your landscape to match that of the house.  Other houses have one prominent window that is a focal point.  Framing it with taller plants will help accentuate this feature even more increasing its impact.

Plants used for framing are:

These cylindrical plants can be left natural or sculpted into more formal shapes such as spirals, single ball shaped patio trees, or double or triple balls known as poodles.  They do require a sunny spot in well-draining soil and don’t usually do well in a northern facing bed.

These evergreen plants have small, soft, dark green leaves that grow on long, straight stems. They are narrow, cylindrical plants maturing at 6-10 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. When they reach the height you want then trim the top. They grow in full or partial sun and prefer well-draining soil.

Pyramidal shape matures at 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The coloring is spectacular with a dark green interior and golden outer foliage. Soft to the touch. Requires partial sun.

A cylindrical growing plant (2-3 feet wide) that blooms either white or purple from late spring through summer. Can be pruned once it reaches the desired height. This is a deciduous plant but it has a nice shape even without leaves. Requires part or full sun.

Evergreen plant with glossy, green leaves and highly fragrant white flowers in the spring and fall. Grows 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Requires well-draining soil and full or partial sun.

This evergreen shrub has dark, glossy green leaves and blooms for several months during the winter. It is slow growing and can be pruned annually once it reaches it’s desired height and width.

Used as an anchor plant but when pruned works well as a frame. Glossy leafed, evergreen hs copper colored new growth that changes to green as the leaf matures. Performs well in sun or shade.

Another anchor plant that works well as a frame when pruned. Dark green, long leafed evergreen plant with red berries that can be pruned to stay 2 feet wide and at a desired height. Will grow in sun, partial sun/partial shade.

There are other plant options to use as frames, and you can get creative with your choices. Choose a plant that you like that fits the area (sun/shade). We will look at “layering” in the next newsletter and how it adds depth to your landscape.

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