- Category: Landscape
The term 'architectural' was probably coined by landscape architects who could think of no better way to describe those plants that are 'at the cutting edge of design' in terms of their starkness, modern lines and ability to dominate and contrast with buildings meeting the same or similar specifications!
While it is not a term that sits comfortably in the horticultural world, it is most apt when it comes to finding a fitting description for this group of botanical oddities and rarities.
In many respects these plants form the backbone of a landscape against which seasonal, flowering and other less-dominating plants are displayed. However, unlike traditional trees and shrubs, they do not form the skeleton of the garden nor are they simply the backdrop. They are much more dramatic than that!
Architectural plants are in themselves, usually quite stunning; not always attractive in the traditional sense but attention-grabbing in their own right. More often than not, they have large leaves, tall stems or trunks, wonderful colours in their foliage and stems, unusual (sometimes grotesque) flowers or some other characteristic that makes them stand out in a crowd.
Where and how to use Ornamental Cycads in Landscape Design.
Cycads can take several places or be used in several ways in a landscape. A striking approach is to follow the Asian styles, with large paired plants in containers or feature beds flanking entrances such as driveways, gates, doorways, some species are Ideal as Boundary Barrier Plants. A single large cycad also makes an excellent feature plant in a landscape emulating a tropical or desert setting, where, substituting for a palm where a large crown is desired without the tall trunk can be replaced with long lived, Drought Hardy, Waterwise cycads.
For sheer majesty, it is difficult to surpass one of the larger Encephalartos species with 2-3 m of trunk. It is also difficult to obtain such plants, and most gardeners must settle for something else. Many fine large fast-growing cycads are available, and will soon reach a spectacular size with correct culture.
The blue cycads are also spectacular in landscapes. These are also difficult to obtain as large plants, and difficult to maintain in the blue colour in more humid climates. The blue species offer the additional challenge of being slower and generally more difficult to grow, and will always be at a premium for this reason.
Cycads can be used virtually anywhere. They look fabulous in large pots either side of a doorway, do well as feature plants in a dry land garden design, fit well into the smallest garden or balcony, and look spectacular as mass plantings in feature beds, flanking driveways, gates and doorways. With so many arid-zone species to choose from, Cycads are ideal plants to include as part of new, sustainable landscapes.
Cycads can also have a place in a small garden landscape where space is limited and consequently plant size is limited. Many cycads can create striking and exotic flavours in such landscapes, depending more on climate than any other factor.
A well-placed container-grown cycad in carefully chosen container can greatly enhance the small-garden setting. There are a number of miniature cycads we have that can be used in such a way.
Dare to be different.
Ornamental Plants that fit this category are often great specimen or feature plants although that is not their prime role. They are eye-catching because they are not 'main stream' and they are used to tremendous effect in modern gardenscapes created by designers who dare to be different!
Having said that, it is necessary to add that an over-abundance of architectural plants in a landscape (especially a small domestic garden), like too much of any good thing, may result in confusion. One or two startling plants to draw attention will have far more effect than a garden full of botanical marvels, where each loses its individuality and impact when in close competition with its equally stunning neighbours.
Sub-tropical and Tropical climate Cycads.
Plants with bold, textured foliage appear to be more common in sub-tropical and tropical climates than in the colder regions. Large Cycad leaves catch moisture and provide welcome shade for plants growing beneath them, not characteristics usually required in cool climates where every bit of sunlight is important to survival!
However, not all large-leafed plants are heat-lovers and, conversely, not all small-leafed plants are native to more temperate climes. There are many plants fitting into our architectural plants' category (ie: large-leafed plants) that are more at home in cooler Temperate Climates than in the warmer Sub-tropical and Tropical climates.
These Unique Landscape Features can be seen in Botanical Gardens around the world as well as Feature plantings in Public Parks and Gardens, in Landscaping around Public Buildings and Public Roads, Tourist Resorts, Palace Gardens,Temples, and Upmarket Private Gardens.
Sub-Tropicalto Temperate climate Cycads.
Large Growing Cycads as Landscape Feature Plants.
Medium to Small Cycads for Garden Features and Borders.
Small Growing Cycads suitable for Bedding or Border Plantings.
Cycads for Full Sun to Part Shade.
Cycads for Part Shade to Shade.
Cycads forAir Conditioned Buildings.
Cycads suitable for Coastal Areas with Salt Influence.
Drought Hardy, Waterwise Cycads for Extreme Conditions