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3) Local Native Plants Look Good Together

Plants from our local plant communities share many visual properties and complement each other aesthetically. Thus, they can be used in myriad combinations to contribute a sense of unity to the planting design. At a deeper level, using native plants from the same plant community ties into an aesthetic cohesiveness that derives its strength directly from nature. Living with a native plant community, one gets the sense that visual beauty and ecological "beauty" derive from a common source.

For some designers this visual realtedness can appear as a limitation, and a constraint on their freedom of design. Because natives share many visual qualities, it may be difficult to find ways of using them to achieve design functions involving contrast or the creation of a focal point.

However, a restriction of this kind need not be taken as a disadvantage but as a situation that requires creativity and care. Moreover, not only can materials like rock or statuary be brought in to serve design functions, there is also no great problem with using non-local California natives with contrasting visual properties as long as their water requirements are compatible to the local plants that surround them.

Since the aesthetics of native plant communities is not a common topic of conversation, I would like briefly to touch on one visual property of native gardens that can be discovered from living with one. This concerns an increased sensitivity to contrasts between plants with similar colors. As one's eyes become adjusted to the subtle differences in color tones that community members have, from what was once a mass of one color emerges the sense of a complex mosaic of similitudes. This sense is heightened by textural distinctions between the leaves of the plants, especially by the way these differences in texture affect the ways the leaves reflect sunlight. Such natural distinctions, once learned, can be much more exciting than human manipulated design elements.

Questions? Comments? Please feel free to contact us
by e-mail at northparknativeplants@yahoo.com
or by phone at 619-846-0585.
We look forward to hearing from you.

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