There are many elements that go into designing a garden - color, form, texture, sound
, fragrance... Texture
in garden design, refers to the surface quality of the plant. Plant textures run the gamut from delicate and fine to coarse and bold.
The feel of the foliage is not the only element of texture. Plant texture can change with the play of light and shadow and even with viewing distance. Too much fine texture creates a fuzzy blur. Too many bold leaved plants can be overwhelming. A nice balance can usually be achieved by blending about 1/3 fine texture with 2/3s coarse and bold.
Any broad leaf plant will give weight to a garden border. Hosta are easy, inexpensive texture tools. Choose a puckered variety and you've added a second level of texture. Other choices include: Petasites, Colocasia, Arum, Ligularia and Darmera (Umbrella Plant).
Plants with thread-like leaves call out to be touched, like a feathery boa. Finely textured foliage is especially nice when viewed up close, but will also add a kind of fuzzy, scrubby offset to more imposing, bold-leaved plants when viewed at a distance. Cosmos, Baby's Breath, Asters
, Boltonia and Amsonia all have nice flowers to complement their fine foliage.
Any fuzzy, gray plant is going to add an element of texture and contrast. You could also try: Lavender
, Santolina, Artemisia, Russian Sage
4. Grasses (Soft Spikes)Grasses add not just texture, but also movement. You can use them in masses or as specimens and accents. If you're lucky, they'll add 4 season interest. (Well, at least 3.)
5. Yucca (Coarse Spikes)Yucca is underappreciated. A hardy trooper, it can survive almost everywhere and the sword-like leaves can instantly calm a cluster of fuzzy, delicate foliage. Still dont like yucca? Try Phormium, Agave, Aloe or even Iris.
For texture that stands out on its own, you cant beat thistle like plants. Most thistles dont look particularly attractive in a garden, but Globe thistle and Sea Holly in bloom and as the flowers dry. The steel blue color is a bonus. For an almost tropical feel, try growing cardoons in the ornamental border. A cousin of the artichoke, the stocky plants have spiny needles and broad leaves. And if your climate can handle it, theres always actual cactus.
Sedums and other smooth, broad- leaved succulents
like Hens & Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum), Kalanchoe, Aptenia and Euphorbia
have foliage that almost seems waxed and polished. In addition to offsetting coarser leaves, many grow in tight rosettes, contributing a contrasting plant forum to the design scheme.