Monday, May 31, 2010

Odd Rules and other Good Design Principles

The other day, I talked about bad garden examples. Yesterday, I visited my sister, whose mostly shady garden is on my list of favorites and I thought some more about the qualities that make it so lovely. When I listed the qualities, I realized the sunny gardens on my favorite list exhibit these same qualities. While today’s list is not exhaustive, I hope it will give you some ideas for your own gardens. Here we go . . .

Odd Rules. Unless you’re planning a very formal garden, buy plants in odd numbers – 3, 5, or 7 – rather than in pairs. It’s a more natural look. And, stay away from “one of everything.” It produces a hodge-podgey effect. Buy one of something if you plan to use it as a “specimen” or focal point in your garden.

Clumps not Rows. Use curves and scalene triangles when grouping your plants rather than lining everything up. When the row ends, your eye doesn’t know what to do. And, if one of the middle guys dies, it’s really obvious. Triangles don’t sound “natural,” but they really do work.

A Little Elbow Room. Remember that your plant will not stay the size it is today. It will get bigger. Leaving a little “elbow room” not only ensures that the plant will have room to grow, but it also produces a restful feeling. Think about how you feel in an elevator with 16 people versus how you feel with only 3 or 4.

One of the things I always do before I stick things in the ground is to set the pots out in the space and see how it looks. It’s much easier to move the pots around above ground than it is to move a plant once you’ve got it in the ground.

Try these ideas in your own garden and see how it feels.

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