A GROWING CONCERN: Small choices shape the big picture

AS WE CONTINUE our discussion on what makes for “right plant in the right spot,” we must always pay attention to its ultimate size, length and width.

Last week, we talked about the big three: Soil, light and climate.

Today, let us plow through the fun and artsy conditions that work to ideally put the right plant in the right spot.

Texture/ habit/ character

To me, the biggest factor in making for the ideal location of a plant is how it grows, along with how it looks and then how its shape fits the area it is growing into.

A slender, pyramid oak tree is absolutely perfect planted between the windows of a colonial house.

A mixture apple tree is great for people in their upper years of life — no ladder needed to pick the fruit — as opposed to a 22-foot tall, semi-dwarf apple.

Pendulous or weeping trees add mood and movement as the branches defiantly sway in the breeze. And the texture adds sizzle with thorns, needles, leaves, paperbark or multi-cane to mix up the look.

Always consider the texture, character and growth habit of the plant because vines can be a wild beast (for one example).

Color palette

This is a big determining factor for a perfect plant placed just right.

Does it bloom? If so, how many different colors? Does it have fall foliage display? If not, why?

Does it contrast with the surroundings or compliment the trim of the house? Is it your favorite color? Color can create themes as well, so I am always looking for the right plants within a color spectrum of consideration.


This factor helps tie the whole yard together. Is it a blue garden, a woodland garden, a wildflower garden, or an orchard or vegetable garden?

Native plants, shade garden, perennial or a grove — all these aspects are prime models to use as a theme.

Color as a theme helps bring everything together. A bright red this and a very yellow that spread throughout the whole yard brings it all together.

Special reason

This is where we really get into the nuances of gardening and where it really puts the right plant in the right spot.

I want low maintenance for my landscaping and yard, as I have other things to do — a great special reason. This factor would greatly influence plant selection and a minimum of grass, flower and fruit trees.

A chef would want a big herb garden, vegetable plot, berries, nuts and fruit trees.

How about an entertainment area, fire pit, pizza oven or an upcoming family wedding? What are your special interests? Put on your plant selections to satisfy them.

Special features

Do I want fragrance or as few as possible bees and hornets flying around?

Should it be deer, dog and kid resistant, or feed and shelter wildlife?

Do I want to paint or harvest plants for projects?

Are there memories or moods I am trying to re-create?

Always try to make a list of your, and your yard’s, special features.

Just enjoy it

I was just telling a brand new client last week to remember: Whatever I say or suggest, what style and sense calls for, what everybody else does, it does not matter. As they do not live here at your yard.

She mentioned how red and purple are her favorite colors, so since that is her wish, I am selecting some plants that are purple with an autumn color that turns red.

I will most always defer to a client’s wishes because that is what they want.

After all, what makes you happy around your landscape is the ultimate goal.

Peruse your passions, sense of style and desire. Because you just simply like it is good enough.

For now, stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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