The Q&A Archives: Contemporary style garden plants

Question: I'm moving into a new construction home with a striking, contemporary design. I have a relatively small garden space (part full sun and part partial shade). I'd like to select plant materials that are just as striking as the house architecture. What would you recommend using?

Answer: This is an interesting question. There are several ways you could go. One might be to use one single sculptural looking plant, and some very large boulders, set it in a sea of groundcover for a sort of zen effect. Another might be to use lush, bold foliage for a tropical look, sort of like the garden style of Roberto Burle Marx. Yet another could be to do a Mondrian-esque scheme using groups of plants to create a geometric pattern separated by stark dark colored pathways as borders. Since you are trying to do something striking, it is worth some thought and careful planning. You will need to take into account the scale of the house and tying it together with the space around it. I would suggest you consult with a professionally trained landscape architect or possibly a garden designer who can help you develop something truly unique -- and well suited to the architecture, the space and the growing conditions where you are planting. You can interview them to be sure you find someone with a sensibility and taste and style that matches your own. Enjoy your new home!

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