Sunday, January 01, 2006

Look Back: Simplifying Plantings

Looking back from this first day of the new year, I'm thinking about changes I would have made to the Rosemont garden if I'd been there another year.

Simplification of the planting would have been at the top of the list. The initial planting was partly an experiment to see what plants would thrive in the rather difficult conditions my little plot of land offered, and what plants could survive deer browsing. Because of our large deer population - they are literally destroying the forests in our area by preventing new growth - selection of plants unpalatable to deer had to be among my top priorities. Ornamental grasses, highly fragrant plants, plants usually found to be deer resistant (see link) made up most of the garden. I did take some risks. Lavatera thuringiaca 'Barnsley', for example, grew into a six-foot shrub, with profuse bloom, in the first year-and-a-half, and though in an exposed position, suffered no deer damage.

Now that I've observed the garden as an outsider, I see more clearly the need to create greater simplicity with larger groupings of similar plants, balanced by sufficient variety to provide interest throughout the seasons. I did plant rather large groupings of Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' (not the first preference, but the only one available), Filipendula rubra 'Venusta', Eupatorium fistulosum and 'Purple Bush', Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail', and Nepeta sibirica 'Souvenir D'Andre Chaudron', which were all quite effective in their season, but fewer species of grasses would have created greater impact and less fussiness at the height of summer.

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