Garden textures and layers

Textural variety of leaves, flowers and bark provides visual interest at different times of the year. Combine strappy leaves with round; silvery, furry leaves with dark glossy ones; large deltoid or oval leaves with graceful grass blades. taller plants in the centre with size graduating down to small ground cover plants, perhaps annuals that change with the seasons, around the edge. Alternatively, you could have a perennial low-growing border of plants such as dwarf lavender, dianella, irises, grasses or snow-in-summer; a taller permanent shrub or group of shrubs in the centre and medium sized annuals in between.

By no means do plants have to graduate evenly in size from the centre of the bed to the edge; variety of height adds another interesting dimension. If your preference is for a bed planted with permanent native shrubs, for example, you might like to incorporate seasonal changes by interspersing a variety of annual flowers or herbs.

A layered planting scheme has many advantages. The taller plants shade and drop leaves to mulch those lower down; medium plants fill in between the taller ones and also shade and mulch the lowest storey. The ground-covering lowest storey acts as living mulch for everything above it and provides interest and colour at ground level. This scheme provides the maximum habitat niches for a range of fauna and is very water efficient.