Less Really Is More


… in the garden, at least.

Though I’m still not convinced the old adage holds true when it comes to books.

But in the garden?

Even a collector gardener like myself, someone who longs for one of everything, learns in time that gardens looks and feel their best when we plant them with greater numbers of fewer varieties.

In other words: plant densely but with more of the same thing.

Follow this guideline, and your garden will look intentional and less like a hodge podge.


Here are a few ways I follow this guideline in my own garden here at Maplehurst:


  • In the most public and visible borders around my home, I use the least variety. These beds are planted exclusively with ornamental grasses, boxwood shrubs, with a bit of color from self-seeding verbena bonariensis (pictured above). The look of these beds doesn’t change much over the course of the season, but they don’t need much care from me in order to look neat.


  • In the more private and personal border at the back of my house, I plant a wider assortment. Here, the ornamental grasses and verbena bonariensis are joined with perennials like spring bulbs, bearded iris, calamint, dwarf dahlias, and agastache. This area requires more care in order to look its best, but the reward for that care is seasonal change and variety.



The “less is more” guideline isn’t a rule.

There is no formula for the exact right number of plants.

If your space is small, you will probably use fewer varieties. If your space is large, you will use more because the larger space will still allow you to plant in large drifts and repeat certain plants.

The key no matter how you follow this guideline in your own garden is to use repetition.

If certain plants repeat themselves around your space, then the whole–whether your style is more simple or more riotous–will feel comfortable and peaceful.

Like the chorus of a wonderful song.

Explore all our Black Barn Garden Library posts here.


Posted on

July 20, 2020

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest