Italian garden designer Luciano Giubbilei is famous for his creations of understated elegance, simple and clean symmetrical design complimented by his use of nature, materials, light, space and art.

His style is modern but uses formal approaches and clipped plants, while his designs are dominated by trees, hedges and grasses, with frequent repeat planting – and there is an all-important texture to all his gardens too.

“Texture is not something that we just look at, it’s something that we experience,” Giubbilei explains. “Certain surfaces make you observe where you are going to be walking, for example. Smooth surfaces are easy to walk on, which will encourage you to look further afield to observe a space more in depth.”

Texture isn’t solely focused on the physical feel of something, he continues. “Texture is associated with emotion. The way we experience space isn’t just visual.” He has used this vision to create the Laurent-Perrier show garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower show, comprising a simple geometric layout juxtaposed with detail which explores the contrasting concepts of stillness and movement, elegance and rawness.

The walls of concrete and metal combine lustres and materials; the stone surfaces are executed with contrasting finishes; the flow and reflection of the water gives light and animation to the space. The planting features delicate forms alongside bolder architectural leaves – providing a colour spectrum of yellows, creams and whites, punctuated by accents of blue, with a backdrop of deep green foliage.

He insists you don’t need designers of the highest level to make texture work though, and says it can be created in any garden, even the smallest space.

“If I just had a patio and I wanted to create texture, the only thing I need is one beautiful tree. That would create the texture. In a courtyard garden, if you bring in a beautiful tree the winter structure will be the bark, which will create the texture, followed by the leaves or flowers or berries, creating a play on light, shadowing the area in a different way.”

He favours amelanchiers, small deciduous trees or shrubs with showy white flowers in early spring, red to purple fruits and often good autumn colour. Ornamental cherries are also suitable as stand-alone specimens in small areas.

Choose patio plants carefully to create different textures. Cluster groups of pots together combining clipped evergreens with more fluid plants such as ferns. He favours predominantly green schemes, but these could be enhanced with the inclusion of pots of bulbs such as Tulipa ‘Belle Epoch’, with double flowers in shades of coffee mousse, flushed with pink.

In a wider space, placing clipped plants such as box or beech hedging next to wilder varieties such as ferns, which are softer and less uniform, will create an effective contrast of stillness and movement. If you include concrete in hard landscaping you need to put another element close to it to create shadows on the surface.

“You have to think about how the light can move on the concrete rather than the concrete as a material. I would put a beautiful tree in front of a concrete wall, which will play on light within the surface of the concrete. Light and reflection are very important elements in the way we feel.

“People can create a mood in their garden using green, big-leaved plants such as hostas, ligularia and darmera (umbrella plant), which give you weight in a border. That weight also creates a certain feeling of calm.”

Add plants with a fine and feathery structure, such as asters or cosmos, which will play with the light.

“It’s more likely that you will want to touch and feel them. If you use more plants with fine texture elements which allow the light through, it will usually make your space feel larger.”

Ornamental grasses such as miscanthus and calamagrostis can also create a feeling of space. “The big leaves of the darmera can be used with the feathery plants and will create different textures at different times of the day.

“Early morning, when the sunlight is low and the light is quite blue, the big leaves will be more predominant, whereas in the afternoon and evening the feathery structures will come into the light. You can create different moods depending on the time of day.”

l The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from May 20-24