When a simple modest plant arranges itself in a large colony, design magic happens. Look at this array of ferns below, for instance. They create a lovely textural line that they eye can dwell on, a distinct transition layer between the trees and the roadside.
Up to now, my gardening style has mostly been combining single plants in interesting combinations. I’m just getting used to the idea of using multiple plants in a tight grouping – line or drift or mass – to create a new and different shape. This really showed the design power of massing plants!
Several spots had multiple kinds of plants growing adjacent to each other, providing a nice set of mixed textures. The first one below is a mix of ferns, a young white pine, and sweet fern. The second is white pine with birch – I guess white pine goes with everything, right? As I do new plantings with shrubs and foliage predominating, these will be a great examples to remember.
A common grouping I observed was a ground cover or two with a taller plant growing out and through the ground cover. They were all sizes – the lowest, shown below, started with moss as the ground cover, allowing wintergreens and other small plants to poke through.
Ground covers aren’t always low to the ground. In this spot, the ground cover was a combination of moss and low-bush blueberries, with ferns as the accent plant.
I have been trying to use more and more ground covers throughout my garden. In these examples I love the contrast between the ground cover and the accent plant, including the height variations. Now to go look for some places in the garden where I can do this.
In this mid-August walk I saw many late-summer flowers in bloom. They were all in what I call the eye-catcher category, which is one or two plants blooming among foliage. Here are a few that caught my eye: fleabane, goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, and black-eyed Susan.
I do have some sections of the garden that are mostly foliage. What if I tucked just one or two flowering plants there? More to experiment with!