The Art of Layering

untitled-62Some gardens remain deep in ones soul years after we have visited them. Such is the case with this breathtaking landscape in Woodinville, WA, designed by the homeowner Jim Guthrie.

In a world full of noise this oasis is a welcome relief. No jarring colors, no ‘look-at-me’ modern art (although there are some stunning yet understated sculptures), no trendy gabion walls, glass-topped fire pits or vertical succulent walls. Not even any flowers!

Rather, this Asian-inspired garden features layers of foliage in restful shades of green and gold with just a few burgundy accents, relying on contrasting textures and forms for interest.  Billowing waterfalls of soft yellow Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) are repeated around the perimeter, interspersed with evergreen shrubs such as David viburnum (Viburnum davidii). ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’) repeats this mounding form while introducing finely dissected burgundy foliage to the color tapestry.

Stands of ‘Green Groove’ bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’), restrained in a rhizome barrier and smaller conifers form the vertical middle tier while the backdrop is provided by native trees such as Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). In the foreground (right) the bright green foliage of a katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) rustles in the breeze and promises a candy apple fragrance come fall.

This is a subtle beauty that does not apologize for its lack of psychedelic bistro sets or extravagant floral displays. This is the essence of good design – and it is all about the foliage.

You can learn more about this inspiring garden in our book Fine Foliage.

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