24 surprising plant combos

What happens when a plant biologist and a landscape artist team up to create a garden on a California hillside? Surprising plant combinations at every turn

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"Painting" with plants
Erin Kunkel

"Painting" with plants

Baumann was a student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, when he met Andy Cao, the internationally known landscape designer and artist. “Cao made me look at gardens differently,” says Baumann, as installations that make you want to explore further. To unleash your inner artist, try Baumann’s suggestions.

Contrast shapes. Pair mounding and spiky plants, such as catmint with phormiums, then tuck in plants with fine leaves to add texture.

Expand your palette. “Because there’s so much green in the natural landscape, I add foliage for contrast—blue, burgundy, orange, and chartreuse,” Baumann says. To lighten shaded areas, use plants with variegated leaves.

Make your own art. To build his wave walls, which hide existing concrete retaining walls, Baumann sketched the waves on sheets of plywood, then took the numbered panels to a metal fabricator.

Design: zeterre.com

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