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Design

Conquering Collector’s Chaos

Learn how to balance your desire for countless plants with the need for a coherent design

Fine Gardening - Issue 188
It can be done. You actually can combine a plethora of plants in a small space and still have an orderly landscape.

I am a plant collector, and I have a “collector’s garden.” In gardener-speak, that is code for acknowledging I have lots of plants (some would say too many) wedged to within an inch of their lives in the garden. And perhaps I have too many variations of one type of plant, the subtleties of which most would never notice. The problem is that I am also a landscape architect. Professionally, I would rarely design a client’s garden with the variety of plants I have in my small garden, as I know too much variety can lead to chaos in a one-of-everything garden.

For a client’s garden, I start with a list of plants that will work, considering soils, sun exposure, moisture, blossom color, foliage color, form, and height within an overarching vision. The list is often long, but I pare it down knowing that the design will be…

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