All gardens require new plantings over time to replace existing vegetation and maintain a fresh, lush appearance. Removing old or dead plants and planting new ones in their place is sufficient in most cases, but sometimes it is better to clear a larger area and create a new patch. In both scenarios the challenge is to make sure that the new plantings fit in with the established part of the garden. Repeating some of the components present in the existing vegetation is an easy way to establish a link between new and old. Colour, texture, and/or shape repetitions can be used. If the rest of the garden contains specific feature plants, then the inclusion of one or more of these can also be an effective means of integrating a new planting bed with its surroundings.
The brief for this area is to develop a planting plan that fits with the rest of the garden and introduces height whilst allowing for air movement so that the lower part of the house next to the new planting area does not become too damp and cold. The area is part of a large garden with mature trees, undergrowth of bold-leafed species such as Acanthus mollis (bear's breeches) and Ligularia reniformis (tractor seat plant), some formal touches mixed with colourful foliage of flaxes and Japanese maples, and a variety of flowering plants including foxgloves, Clematis and Kniphofia.
A small to medium sized tree with a spreading or weeping canopy echoes the shape of the house and the semi-circular windows on the top floor. Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula' (weeping silver pear, willow-leafed silver pear) is deciduous and as such does not hinder air circulation during the winter months. Other suitable candidates include Albizia julibrissin (silk tree), flowering cherries or Japanese maples.
The silvery-grey colour of Pyrus salicifolia'Pendula' is repeated in the foliage of Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear', the solft ground-covering leaves of Stachys byzantina (lamb's ear) and in a group of Lychnis coronaria (rose campion) beneath the tree. The latter produces bright magenta-pink flowers in spring, but a white-flowering cultivar 'Alba' is also available. The leaves of Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' link with the spiky foliage of the flaxes in the rest of the garden.
Especially in strong sunlight, it is important to use grey in moderation and mix it with other foliage colours to avoid a tired and pallid look. Burgundy Loropetalum chinense cultivars would work well with the similarly coloured dwarf Japanese maples elsewhere in the garden. The large dark green leaves of Acanthus mollis (bear's breeches) form a good contrast with an otherwise relatively fine-textured plant mix, whilst the round shapes of Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf ball', Hebe 'Pretty in Pink', Hebe odora, or clipped Buxus sempervirens (English box) add a structural element. The scene is finished off with green mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) along the brick wall.