Texture and color are pretty much self explanatory. Texture is what a viewer sees depending on how the plant or hardscaping is put together. It has nothing to do with the size or shape of the plant or hardscaping, but everything to do with the way the viewer thinks the plant or hardscape feels if touched.
The first picture shows a few different textures while also serving as a good picture to demonstrate how structure and form are also at play in this garden. The fence is structure which as an up and down form. The texture of the fence would appear to be smooth and somewhat weathered due to the variation of color. The texture of the chain link fencing in the background would appear to be light and airy and not substantial at all.
The two main shrubs in this garden are Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) and Hicksii Yew (Taxus media). The heavenly bamboo would seem to be not as substantial as the yews, and much more touchable. The yews are more like the wood fence, subdued, somewhat smooth and solid. Evidence the yews are more solid and substantial than the heavenly bamboo can be found when we see the snow rests easily upon the yew branches, but not on the nandina. You can just see the large Columnar Juniper behind the chain link fencing. While the texture and color of the juniper is similar to that of the yews, snow does not stick to the juniper branches; thus we perceive its texture to be different. Different textures helps us to differentiate amongst different things in the garden and is important in all seasons.
The second picture shows a Dwarf Alberta Spruce in front of the same chain link fence as in the above picture. In this picture you can see a substantial arbor made of large timbers and lattice panels (more on the Wisteria/Privacy Arbor in a later post). Here we have many different textures. The texture of the Alberta spruce is not unlike the that of the yews above, however, the form is different. It is more in the form of a Christmas tree rather than the squat, round and open form of the yews. The chain link still seems to be airy but has more substance to it. We can now see each privacy strip with ease, whereas in the above picture it appeared the green on the chain link was a film of some sort. The arbor in the background may intrique us and pull us in for a closer view. Clearly the white panels are lattice, but from this distance and angle they look almost like solid pieces of wood painted white.
Texture is a key element in any good garden design. It is the one constant of both plant material and hardscaping which you can rely on not changing much. Texture on a young nandina or old nandina will still be the same. Texture does not rely on color, flowers, structure, or form of the item. Everything has texture and the key to making it interesting in the wintertime is to combine interesting textures with one another to make a pleasing juxtoposition.
in the garden....