Bougainvillea ‘Helen Johnson’ makes Michael Spencer’s list of the 41 structural shrubs that belong in every designer’s Plant Book. Mr. Spencer, ASLA, has been practicing landscape architecture for 25 years and is the president of MSA Design in Naples, Florida. He recently wrote an article titled, “Make it Green: ‘Structural’ Stock”, that discusses the distinction between the “structural” plants and – well, all the others.
Mr. Spencer explains that the idea of structural plants is simple, and that “any garden or planting project requires an overall structure to carry the conceptual load”. He points out examples of structural plants sometimes being “hedges around parking lots (which are required), or a hedge down your property line to screen that nice neighbor’s purple house, or a planting in front of your air conditioner”.
Other structural stock includes shade trees or palm groupings. Not only do they provide beneficial shade and reduction of heat load, but they also create micro-climates where shade-loving plants can thrive. Another structural element is foundation plantings, which Mr. Spencer states, “are widely understood to be planted around the building, at the foundation, as a sort of du rigour initial planting”.
Thank you, Mr. Spencer , for promoting the use of this showy, dwarf bougainvillea as part of your Plant Book!