Linear Leanings

Linear Leanings


Z Outdoors GenericGive your garden a much-needed lift with a flourish of strappy-leafed plants

If you think your garden is looking nice but a little ordinary, here’s a tip — and a strappy one at that. It’s a bit like knowing black shoes make your feet look smaller than white ones, or that your interiors feel bigger if you walk around the house and declutter. It’s simple, easy and it works.

This landscape design tip is tried, tested and universally used by garden designers everywhere. Just add linear foliage to a planting to lift the landscape from banal to edgy. Or in other words, wedge a few strappy-leafed plants among your existing garden planting and watch what happens. Brilliant.

It’s a bit like a great recipe. Let’s take the vital ingredient, in this case a cordyline called Red Fountain, which is a good choice because it won’t grow tall and leggy and spoil the effect you’re about to create. It’s also a tough-as-boots type of plant, which is also good, because who wants to fuss around with anything that’s tricky to grow?

Let’s also assume you have a garden with areas of dappled shade through to full sun, probably filled with a range of plants — lavender, roses, azaleas, jasmine. The reason things look a little ho-hum despite the fact that these are all lovely plants is that their texture (a technical word that really means leaf size) is pretty much all the same.

Watch what happens when you dot a few Red Fountains, still in their pots, into the garden beds. Don’t worry about light and shade (this cordyline is happy growing in both). Just play around and watch the miracle happen. And when you’re happy with the result, just pop them into the soil.

So why does it work? It’s all about contrast — the long leaf line and its amazing colour set against the rest of the garden. And that’s not all. Linear leaves also offer movement. When the breeze ripples through your garden, watch the burgundy red cascade dance.

While we’re at it, here are two more bonus tips:
1. A mass strappy planting is a simple but hugely effective way to inject serious punch into a landscape.
2. If you need to fill a feature pot with style, use linear foliage.