Wedding Cake Landscape Design Theory

The sun peeked out long enough for me to talk the dog into going out for a quick walk. During this darker part of the year, I am on the lookout for the plants that outshine all of the others. Today’s top candidate:

Arborvitae ‘Rheingold’

Arborvitae 'Rheingold'This photo was taken during high summer, but if I had my camera with me today, you would have seen an example of this same plant in a stunning russet/orange color for winter.

Not many people are aware that there are a tremendous number of evergreen plants that do change color in the winter. Both Conifer and Broad leaf evergreens have many great choices that offer winter color for the landscape.

Take a look in your neighborhood at what might be looking terrific right now. Some others to be on the look out for? Sedum, Heuchera, Leucothoe, Juniper, Heather, Hebe.

I use these investigative walks as a design tool. When I create a design plan or make suggestions to a client about what to plant, I inevitably begin with planting for winter color. In the longest, darkest season of the year, especially if you live in a gray climate like mine, it’s paramount to create a colorful to enjoy during those rough months.

I want to look out my window, or pull up in my drive and feel proud of how colorful and interesting my landscape looks at the harshest period of the seasons. It’s what I call the “Wedding Cake Theory” of landscape design. It goes as follows: If you have a SUPER YUMMY wedding cake (insert your favorite flavor here) but the icing on the outside is the icky, lard based gunk, then no matter how pretty that icing and flower design is on the cake, it’s going to sully the cake.You can still eat the cake, avoiding the icing, but why?

I think of the gardens that I work with as those cakes, what good are a few weeks of stunning blooms, if the garden as a whole does not  have  a great base to work from. I want my cake and my icing too!

4 thoughts on “Wedding Cake Landscape Design Theory

  1. I love the idea of “wedding cake” design. The whole idea sticks in your mind because of that phrase. And who wouldn’t want plants that outshine all the others, yet who thinks of it that way when they go to a nursery. Great ideas!

    • Thanks for your kind comments Judy!
      Having worked in nurseries for so many years, teaching gardening classes and consulting as The Personal Garden Coach, this is the entire basis for my design and teaching method. Saving Money, Time and labor for gardeners is my passion. It’s a great way to explain it and very gratifying when you see the proverbial light bulb go on over the person’s head when they “get it”.

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