Mass planting

lovegardening84May 11, 2013

I know that planting groups of the same flowers is pleasing to the eye. When i see a garden that blows my socks off, I notice there are only one or two flower selections and in mass! But I always have a hard time doing that! I wanted to do that in one of my side gardens, but I love flowers so much that I always end up adding different kinds!
Does anyone else have this problem?

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Oh yes, but I think it's the Scotch in me that just can't bring myself to buy 5 of one thing. I can go to one place and justify one or two purchases...then next Weds. go somewhere else and buy one or two.
But I do love to see huge masses of red zinnias, or a porch post with a couple of clematises climbing up into a big mass of gorgeous color at the top. It amazes me how many times, it's just coincidence that those clematises grew like that...the owner didn't even plant them; they just left whatever the previous owner had in place and thought: good enough, I guess.
Right now the pink magnolias are georgeous around here. One particular family had a gorgeous large one right by the house in a protected spot...lovely every year. New people in the house...they cut it back, narrowing it a lot, took out most of the gorgeous phlox and other perennials, really saddens me.
But I do understand that it's not for everyone. Maybe the point is that it is up to us who love it, to provide the gorgeous something special and awe inspiring...I better go get busy!!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:35AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I'm a collector and am not mass planting anything, who cares if some think my yard is busy?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:50AM
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One of the most eye catching mass plantings I came across was an a nearby arboretum....a huge swath of some ``Sea Holly``.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:40PM
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I have a huge patch of Sea Holly too. That stuff seeds around like crazy. LOL.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:10PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

My idea of a mass planting is 3 plants of the same thing. I just don't have the room. I like variety and will always like variety.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 2:44PM
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I have a lot of variety. I know when I look at gardens (usually perfectly timed pictures) with very large swaths of single plant types, it does make an impression and usually a strong structural sense (I do not know how else to word it). Sometimes I do feel that is the way one is "supposed" to do it. I know, however, that I am happier with a large variety of plants to enjoy. I do buy a lot of individual plants to try them out and if they do well, I divide them and plant in small groups. I do not usually buy large quantities of any one plant though.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 5:39PM
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Kevin, just like you I am sure most of us don`t have the room for such mass plantings but I sure do appreciate viewing them on someone else`s property.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 6:48PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I like to plant large groups of certain things, just to offset the assortment of other stuff. Makes the 'disorder ' look halfway on purpose. I just love a little of this and a little of that.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 8:24PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

LOL @ echinaceamaniac's post.

I prefer cottage garden style plantings. I use splashes of like color to draw attention or to tie one section of the landscaping to the other. Although, this year, as a quick tie-in fix for our new beds, I bought 30 red petunias to visually unify one patio seating area to the opposite bed. But I rarely go the annual route and the beds will have different plants installed in the fall and next spring.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Mmm, I do have lots of drifts and clumps because I tend to sow nearly all my plants from seed - apart from the roses (although there are a good number of cuttings), - between Chiltern Seeds and Plant world, the choice of seeds is immense...for 2 or 3 pounds a packet, I can be really profligate in planting. I don't have a sophisticated set-up but I do have a greenhouse (which actually occupies a third of my entire home garden).
If I am actually buying (gasp) a plant, of course I only get 1 (we don't have draconian copyright and plant patent laws for home propagation here)........and if I want more, then one way or another, I can generally get more.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 7:05PM
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I have a constant struggle with this. I am always drawn to pictures of mass plantings with high contrasting leaf colors and am usually turned off by the "cottage style" beds... to me, it's not about "busy"... it's about clutter.

The funny thing is that the inside of my home is cluttered.... I'm terrible about putting things away.... and it doesn't usually bother me.

The collector in me has trouble buying 3 of one plant.... 5 is murder! I mean, if I have $50 to spend, why spend it on 1 variety when I can have 5!

So now, here I am looking at a 1 year old garden trying to figure out how I'm going to "clean up the clutter"..

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 8:11PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

My garden style is really the result of a lack of yard size meeting a love of many different plants. With more acreage, the result would likely be very different.

While my garden is a collection of many, there are several favorites that I use a lot of to unify the whole. (I swear, if those Cousin Itts do don't drop in price soon, I may go broke! lol) Another thing I do is plan them to show off in sequence. For example, in one bed, freesias (yellow and white) begin the show. Then as they are winding down the bletillas (purple) have their turn. Then a wave of russelia (red) go into action. The freesias, bletillas and russelia are all planted together, but you really only notice one group at a time, except for a bit of timing overlap.

Another idea that may work for you is to group your plantings by color, or timed color. As with a moon garden, where all of the flowers from the various plants are white, the same thing can be done with other colors. The garden becomes more a textural enjoyment. Timed color simply means that all of the red-flowering plants bloom in spring, and the white-flowering ones in the autumn, for example, so the colors do not overlap.

But if you really want the true en masse look, you must buy and plant many of the same plant. Or just one very aggressive invasive.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 3:17PM
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I know that amsonia hubrichtii was "Plant of the Year" a couple of years back but seeing it as a small plant at the nursery I couldnt see the potential. I even bought one but actually I "shovel pruned" it this spring. But just yesterday I was walking by a garden next to a university building and my gaze was drawn to this patch (about 5 feet long and maybe 2.5 to 3 feet in height):

(It is hubrichtii...right?)

It was gorgeous and one couldn't help reaching out to touch the leaves.

I am not sure how many plants were in this planting but the whole seemed greater than the sum of its parts.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 12:46AM
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pam_whitbyon(6 Niagara)

I'm struggling to deal with the size of this property we've had for the last 5 years. I was so excited when we first moved because I envisioned curving pathways, trees, little alcoves of shade and sun, benches, patios and sundials! But honestly, it's not just expensive but intimidating to me to start with almost a blank canvas, so my yard still looks a bit like a soccer field and guess slowly, I'll just start to fill it up by making existing beds larger and trying to strategically get rid of more lawn in an orderly way.

I have to get used to the scale of the yard and I haven't done it that well. Some of my large flower beds have way too much variety but I notice that gradually, each bed has a way of telling me what works and what doesn't work and for some reason they all have their own attributes of drainage, soil types and light.

And when I do buy 3 of something, I'm always torn between planting them all together or spreading them out!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 1:38AM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

This is a very interesting thread, I have enjoyed reading how everyone is so different, but the collector in all of us seems to come out and get accomodated one way or the other! It has also made me more aware of my own patterns, which I hadn't really stopped to analyze until now.

It seems I tend to plant a bed by color choice first, maybe choosing two or three colors for that area then another area will have a whole different color palette and feel. Height is the obvious next component when choosing, then texture and I do tend to echo the same plant throughout the bed. I like simplicity in the garden and tend to buy many of the same plant, if I really like it. The funny thing is I use the "ends" of the bed as my "play" area, where singles or doubles get planted and experimental plants go to see if I like them. If I like them, they get friends, LOL and I replace the ones that didn't work with the good ones, so end up getting the same multiple plant area anyway. I have never stopped to notice this pattern before, this is such a duh revelation to me! So, the flow, if you will is in the middle of the bed with repeat plants and the random is on the ends. Does anyone else do this or am I the oddball out? Wouldn't be the first time! :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 12:18PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I do a lot of Pam's letting the garden tell me what it wants - I WALAT/SALAT (walk around looking at things/stand around looking at things) a lot :-) In classical terms I think that counts as 'consulting the genius loci'.... Alexander Pope's advice to Lord Burlington on gardens (1731) is still worth reading:

"In all, let Nature never be forgot.
But treat the Goddess like a modest Fair,
Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty everywhere be spied,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points who pleasingly confounds,
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.

Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise or fall;
Or helps thâ ambitious hill the heavâÂÂns to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale,
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks, or now directs, thâ intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and as you work designs.

Still follow Sense, of every art the soul;
Parts answering parts shall slide into a whole,
Spontaneous beauties all around advance,
Start evâÂÂn from difficulty, strike from chance:
Nature shall join you; time shall make it grow"

Like funnthesun I also use color to theme most areas of the garden and try to balance simplicity and variety. Shaping the spaces , both the 'positive' spaces (e.g. the beds) and the 'negative' spaces (e.g. the lawn), I've come to see as important as the planting of the spaces as the shape of the spaces can provide the sense of order to balance the 'choas' of the plantings. My goal is that the whole property be an integrated garden rather than a series of beds. I like Gertrude Jekyll's idea of a 'garden with a house in it' rather than a house with a garden! :-) We're getting there I think....

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 1:11PM
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Thanks to all with input. Interesting to say the least. It's a far cry from the eight geraniums and fourteen marigolds that most of us grew up with. I've found that size and sight lines come into play.. Then there is the size of the garden as well.

A small garden needs harmony and a setting - to create an ambience. A larger area can have various focal points but also needs a flow.

Endless possibilities, limited resources.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 1:32PM
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I love flowers too, so it's hard for me not to just buy one of everything I can get my hands on and plant it all together! However, over the years, I've found that my garden doesn't quite make the statement that I want it to. So...I've been experimenting with doing a bit of both and I'm liking it! The first time I did this, I tried it in a woodland setting. I under planted the whole thing with varigated vinca minor to give it continuity. Then, I planted hostas that would be large enough to grow up through the vinca...particularly the ones that are vase shaped. Since all of the plants are hostas, the garden has continuity. It still satisfies my need for variety, though, because they're all different cultivars. The under planting of vinca brings it together even more. Other times I've bought several plants that are the same overall size and foliage/flower color, but they're different varieties. This still gives a mass planting effect, but satisfies my need to try out different plants. Some plants have enough variety within themselves, such as hosta, that you can plant all different types together and still have some uniformity. Another great plant with lots of variety is Heuchera/Heucherella. It comes in all kinds of colors, leaf shapes and sizes. I have a small garden full of just Heuchera and Hosta, and it fits the bill for both variety and uniformity. Hope I've given you some good ideas and not just rambled on! Lol.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 4:59PM
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This is an interesting thread for me. Many of you have helped me throughout the years and I appreciate it. I'm interested in hearing from Wieslaw and all you others!


    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:14PM
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Thanks to all with input. Interesting to say the least. It's a far cry from the eight geraniums and fourteen marigolds that most of us grew up with. I've found that size and sight lines come into play.. Then there is the size of the garden as well.

A small garden needs harmony and a setting - to create an ambience. A larger area can have various focal points but also needs a flow.

Endless possibilities, limited resources.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:38PM
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