steve harbour landscapes
Landscape Designer Steve Harbour Offers the best in affordable residential landscapes to San Diego County homeowners. .
You walk into a San Diego garden and are struck by one plant that seems to captivate the entire area. The plant is either beautiful, large, or exceptionally striking in some way, but you and everyone else can't help but notice it. The plant is a garden focal point, intentionally designed to capture attention. Focal points can mesmerize us with beautiful flower displays, exceptionally rich foliage hues, and a dramatic sculptural presence.
The focal point is likely to be the first plant to be penciled into a landscape design, the catalyst around which the rest of the plant palette is formed. It’s true that some landscapes are intentionally designed without using plants as focal points, as when creating a naturalistic tapestry of plantings, or when choosing to favor of a fountain, statue, or other decorative piece as the primary point of interest. But if we ignore the focal point concept altogether when creating a garden setting, something unintended maypop up to become the focus of our design, maybe some half-dead plant, looming telephone pole past the back fence, or some other eyesore.
What makes a good focal point? It can be the impact of a solitary flowering shrub or vine, such as a protea or bougainvillea. Striking foliage color can have as much visual impact as vibrant bloom, which is the case with the burgundy leaf Caribbean copper tree. Plant curiosities and plants of impressive structure will steal the spotlight, Dragon Tree or Tree Aloe. Lastly, the biggest plant and certain to capture our attention, dominating specimens like Italian stone pine, cork oak, or our native California sycamore.
More complex designs are often sprinkled with eye popping plants, a conscious choice on the part of the designer when creating various vignettes throughout the landscape. When adding multiple focal points to a design works, each area is a visual treat; when it doesn't work, the focal points fight for attention and the entire landscape gets muddied and loses impact.
Seasonality is another factor to consider in designing focal points into the garden. Many plants light up a garden in one season, then fall back into relative obscurity throughout the rest of the year. Seasonality makes it necessary to design other species that come into their prime as the other seasonal highlights fades. This is especially true when showcasing flowering plants, most of which bloom seasonally. It takes more planning to effectively design a landscape with different highlights in each season, but when implemented correctly, adds a look less likely to become monotonous.
Like actors on a stage, the focal point takes the spotlight while the other, less noteworthy plant species work the background in supporting roles. Selecting the right focal point or focal points adds eye-popping beauty to the landscape.
Steve Harbour is a landscape designer working in the San Diego area.