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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Claudia de Yong a Garden Design and owner of an online shop selling artisan and vintage garden pieces

Planting in Numbers

When we plant our gardens we generally follow a rule which is to plant in
odd numbers. Threes, fives, sevens and so on. In a garden centre or nursery
we can be tempted by a herbaceous plant which looks so lovely we feel we
‘have’ to have it. Then we come home and wonder where we are going to put it without really thinking of the overall picture. However, when designing

a garden, we would never think of just planting one of something unless it
was a large shrub or tree and we have planned where it is going to go from
the outset.
Recently a client asked me why we plant in odd numbers. I replied that
traditionally we don’t tend to plant in even numbers as we want to avoid
a bed with plants all in a row lined up like soldiers. We take our inspiration
from nature which has a natural chaos about it and thus a less ordered or
managed look. When planting bulbs, natural chaos really comes into its own
and great drifts can be achieved by throwing large numbers of bulbs into an
area before planting them where they land.
This however, is not how we like our gardens to be all the time and for a
formal look it is possible to plant more evenly to achieve an ordered garden
or bed. This way of planting can also be seen in a lot of parks and stately
homes where symmetry is all important.
Many gardens that I have work on have had very enthusiastic owners who
have been taken by different plants they have picked up from either a
garden centre or a sale and have planted them not really knowing how big
they will get or whether they will blend into their gardens. They have then
asked me do my magic and transform the garden keeping odd plants they
like. This is always a bit tricky but in the end I have convinced them that if
they like certain plants so much why not buy a few more to make a
statement rather than having one little specimen. This way I explain they will
have more enjoyment from the plants they like and the overall effect will be
much better. Indeed, planting just one herbaceous perennial can be totally
lost in a large bed and is much easier to plant three rather than search for a
spot to put one in.
Placing pots in a garden to add colour and variety for seasonality has also in
the past been dictated by tradition. Two pots either side of an entrance for
example is always popular. More recently, having three large pots along a
wall is seen as more trendy. The move away from lots of small pots with
different annuals in them has been replaced with large statement pots and
containers. Tall shrubs and trees have taken over from the bedding in modern
homes and we are seeing an increase in tender plants like cannas and more
on doorsteps.
Architecture often dictates the style of garden too. A cottage garden which
is more informal is more obviously found in a country cottage setting and a
town house will more likely be formally planted which adds to the ordered
and managed environment in which it is set.
Fashions come and go in gardening like other areas as do trends. Budget
dictates a lot of our decisions but if you can plant in threes or more, and not
in a line it will give more pleasure and greater impact.
Claudia de Yong Designs

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