A space thought of by itself doesn’t mean much; but, a space related to other spaces and objects around it can provide a strong base for choosing plants. Size is always relative, and scale can only be judged relative to something else. This works the same when thinking about the size of a person. Compared to an ant, a person is very large. Compared to an elephant, not so much. So a 10’x10’ space can feel large if we plant only pansies, but that same space can feel cramped with an 8’ shrub planted in the middle.
A plant or object is “out of scale” when you compare the size of plant to the overall space of the plant bed, also taking into account the size of other plants and plant beds nearby. A space is out of scale when it doesn’t accommodate the objects that are intended. An object is out of proportion when it doesn’t relate to the activity or use that is intended. A two lane road is in scale with a car and feels just right, but to a person walking, the road is much larger than is needed. That is why our sidewalks aren’t 20 feet wide.
Plants in our landscapes work the same way. You don’t want to plant a 20 foot tall shrub near your front door because it won’t fit and it will make your door feel small and insignificant. You also wouldn’t want to plant a 1 foot tall shrub beneath a 10 foot retaining wall because the plant bed will feel bare and empty.
~Trey McBride, BLA