Garden Tour: Fifty Shades of Green
An Ohio designer trusts a tone-on-tone palette to power his low-maintenance, high-style planting formula.
Summer often finds A-list home and garden designer Kevin Reiner relaxing with fellow creatives Dave and Amy Butler, Amy Hamilton, and Dustin Gerken in the shade of a large maple tree behind Kevin's home in Granville, Ohio. They're surrounded by his lush garden, a rhapsody in green that reflects Kevin's preference for striking foliage over showy blooms, as well as a deft distribution of varying plant textures, colors and heights. "I'm constantly balancing," he says.
Kevin designed many of the gardens in this college town (home to Denison University) with his foliage-first approach, the green palette unifying a mix of architectural styles. Homes sit close to one another and the street, fostering intimacy. "The neighborhood is like a village," Kevin says.
Besides providing consistent color, foliage requires less maintenance than flowers, and it supplies a tranquil and soothing Garden of Eden ambience. "I want to create spaces that you never want to leave," Kevin says.
Garden of even The symmetrical and shady back garden between Kevin's house and studio epitomizes his balanced design and love of leafy hues. Even the pond is green-water lettuce floats atop the round focal point. A few pots of New Guinea impatiens add judicious pops of color to frame the garden's "rooms."
Material girl Textile artist Amy Butler, who works out of a studio in Granville and is part of Kevin's creative inner circle, designed the fun floral fabric for the outdoor seating.
Containment policy Kevin plants some containers with single species, such as warm green honeysuckle, to help them stand out. But he also teams his go-to pink impatiens with green trailers for contrast. Kevin likes the visual impact of large, ornate and unusually shaped containers.
Gardening close to home Bushy green boxwood, cactus-filled urns and tall canna with orange blooms frame the short distance from the sidewalk to the front steps of Kevin's Greek Revival-style home. He prefers designing garden spaces close to the house, so that they connect to-and become extensions of-the interior rooms.
Planting Guide: Bright Greens To pull off a nearly all-green look, Kevin relies heavily on chartreuse leaves. "They're almost as colorful as flowers," he says. Plants offering warm, yellow-green foliage stand out and also complement darker varieties. Try these picks in your garden.
(Left to right)
Coleus For lightning-fast light green, choose ‘The Line' coleus. The quick-growing annual thrives in containers or in-ground after the last frost.
Hostas They come in nearly every shade of green. ‘Daybreak' is one of the most chartreuse. It likes shade or partial shade and soil that's moist but drains well.
Coral Bells Heuchera ‘Electra' glows with red-veined, lime-green foliage. A shade-loving, compact grower, it's ideal for a bed edge, either alone or massed.
Spiderwort ‘Sweet Kate' catches the eye with its near-iridescent shade of chartreuse and spiky foliage. Bonus: deep purple blooms that look almost blue.
Garden designer Kevin Reiner Design, Granville, Ohio (kevinreinerdesign.com).
Fabric designer Amy Butler Design, Granville, Ohio (amybutlerdesign.com).