I was never one to have a tidy garden, one in which the plants were a polite distance apart, everything was in neat lines and never a spent flower could be found. Even my early gardens, oh so many years ago, were lush and chuck full of plants. This was by chance, not design. In the beginning I wanted all the plants and I would grab three of this plant and five of that one. When I divided plants from my woods, I would split the colony taking half to the garden and replanting the rest. I learned, quite by chance, that multiple plants are always better than one-offs here and there and planting thick made my gardens look like the woods and fields I explored.
Fast forward many years and I'm still practicing this method of multiples of many plants. Case in point, the Wimberg Focal Garden at Ault Park. Over time nature has edited some plants from one bed within the garden and expanded a colony in another bed, but the foundation and the style behind the garden remains the same: plant a lot of each plant, leave little room in between plants and let nature do her work.
Am I saying to be hands off? Off course not. This is still a garden tucked within a rather formal park. We don't want weeds running a muck or one plant colony monopolizing the space. I am striving for an intermingled garden: one of controlled slight chaos. So I weed, about an hour or two a week and make sure no plants are thugs (which they are not so far). My job is to keep the design in check. Where the Monarda has done exceptionally well, I will tuck in a second plant to extend the seasonal interest of that small section. I may edit some lambs ears in favor of more blooming plants or under-utilized grasses and I’ll certainly plant more upright verbena. Grasses that have been there for many years and suffered a setback will be replaced so the garden doesn’t lose their upright structure and stunning fall color.
Other than that, my lushly planted garden fends for itself rather well, allowing me to sit back and enjoy the pollinators and birds that visit it with fervent regularity. ~ Jennifer