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!)