Why You Should Plant More of the Same

The garden designer in me frequently does battle with the plant collector in me.

The designer knows that planting more of fewer varieties makes a much more impressive statement in the landscape than planting one of everything ever will. Of course, the collector is always excited about trying the next great thing, but I try to give my collecting side only certain areas of the garden to play around in.

Here at Maplehurst, I listen to both voices (and often try new plants in containers), but I have learned to listen to the designer when it comes to the choices I make in high visibility areas, like the borders around my house and those near our more public outdoor spaces around the Black Barn.

One pyramid-shaped ‘Green Mountain’ boxwood is lovely but seven lined up in a row is WOW.

Not only that, mass plantings are easy for the eye to “read.” A line of boxwood or holly suggests formality and neatness. It’s a good message for the front of a house or entertaining area. A mass planting of fluid grasses evokes a meadow, but delivers that garden message without looking weedy.


Here are some of my favorite “more of less is more” plantings:

  • A matrix of grasses: I love to cover a border with only one type of a beautiful ornamental grass (try Prairie Dropseed for sun or Japanese Forest grass for shade); in the photo above, purple Verbena Bonariensis stands out against a sea of Northern Sea Oats


  • I like to plant my small or medium-sized shrub roses in threes. Planted close together, three David Austin roses make a much bigger splash in the flower garden than they would planted singly; the eye “reads” them as one large rose


  • Plant a hedge: plant a living fence (and a beautiful green garden backdrop) with a traditional hedge of boxwood (like ‘Dee Runk’ boxwood), hornbeam, holly, yew, or arborvitae


  • One pot on the porch steps is nice, but five or fifteen packed in tightly and it suddenly looks like a garden (this is one the designer and the collector can both agree on!)


Posted on

June 7, 2021

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