Immortal Green
by J. Claiborne Bowdon

Frederick Law Olmstead, America’s greatest
landscape architect, extolled the virtue of
finding “the genius of a place,” but most
importantly to follow it once you’ve found
it. What is it that inspires you about your
yard? Is there a peculiar slope in the land
towards the back? Is there a tree with an
oddly bent limb? In all likelihood you don’t
find any inspiration or see any genius in
your back or front yard, but you’d like to.

Well, in order to find the “genius” you should
begin by considering the “place.” Is the
yard a square, a rectangle, or some shape
that mathematics has yet to assign a name?
Take all of these things into consideration as
you make your plans and select your plants.
Easier said than done? Everything outside of flicking on a light switch is, but it can be particularly
difficult when you’re striving to create a “modern” garden. Grid layouts can be useful guidelines,
and sticking with one thing, whether it’s a texture or color, is always a safe bet. Here are a few
safe suggestions to get you started:
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BOX WOODS

These are a favorite of modernists and
classicists alike. These hardy, squat bushes
are an evergreen that’s very drought tolerant
and don’t require much fuss. You can sculpt
them into crisply struck green boxes or carve
them into neat circles with rounded tops
for a pleasant, bristly macaroon shape.
SUCCULENTS

These are incredibly popular right now for a
variety of reasons. The colors will surprise you,
but the shapes are absolutely wondrous. So
much of crafting a modern garden is about
emphasizing shapes, and succulents are truly
living sculptures. They can be bulbous and
pleasing or reedy but thick with texture. The
variety is astounding, especially when you
realize that the cacti family is also a part of
succulent family. They enjoy being grouped
closely together and don’t require extensive,
or even regular watering. If you’d like to cover
a broad area you can try sedum. It looks like
rosemary, but has shorter limbs and spreads
easily on its own.
YUCCAS

You can spot these all over Dallas. The most
common variety around town is the Texas Red
Yucca. You can find it in yards, parks,
commercial real-estate developments,
even medians and other public sites. They
have a wonderfully exotic look that still
feels appropriate to the southwest, and
the sculptural forms of the blooms that
appear in the spring are as lovely as any
flower. They enjoy full or partial sun and
prefer intermittent watering.
Now that we’re past Easter we can breathe a sigh of relief and plant with confidence- secure in the
strange, but sagacious knowledge that once the last plastic egg has been snatched off the lawn
we’ve felt the last lash of winter. What sort of plans do you have for your garden? Did your
perennials all come back as you’d hoped? Tweet us some pictures or sketches of ideas at
@moderndallas.