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Designing For Expansion and Restraint

Garden Reports and Rejoicing – January 23

The title of this post seems like a contradiction, but hear me out. We have a narrow lot. Although the total isn’t small by Cape Cod standards, the overall property is long and thin. This shape presents several challenges when it comes to garden design.

One of the considerations is how to make it all seem less restricted and create the impression that our land extends in width as well as length. In the lower part of Poison Ivy Acres the added concern is that these lands can’t, because of zoning, contain any permanent structures and we want them to be as native and low-maintenance as possible.

The answer lies in large, sweeping groups of plants. My simple, Photoshop picture shows what I’m thinking. If I plant long groups of plants that run from side to side, the eye will automatically expand the land.

This is a challenge for several reasons. First, it takes discipline to plant huge groups of all one plant. My hort-a-holic self wants to buy many varieties, not just one.

Secondly, of course is expense involved. Buying a group of seventy-two plants costs more, even if they’re purchased as wholesale plugs.

Finally, one must choose something that is going to thrive, ignoring the latest cultivars and more sexy catalog offerings. Discipline again.

Nevertheless, I know that the satisfaction of seeing what results will, in the lower section of Poison Ivy Acres, be worth all the planning, budgeting and self-control. There are times, in the garden and in life, when it’s better to let creativity and serendipity reign, and other instances when prudence and forbearance should

This is the view down to the lake.

A quick drawing with Photoshop shows - in some small way - how horizontal bands of plants can visually expand the view to each side. Now if only the purchase and planting of these swaths of plants would be as easy as the illustration.

2 Responses to “Designing For Expansion and Restraint”

  1. 1
    Liza and John's Garden:

    Major project, hard on the pocket book and super hard on the back. Then come the deciding what to plant, Mountain Laural, Rhododendron, Something evergreen that does not bloom. Low maintenance, no pruning and cant grow so tall it blocks out the view of the lake. What the soil like down there? OK now that I have created a whole bunch of new issues and have eliminated all that you can’t grow there, whats the next move?

    Have a great day,
    John

  2. 2
    CL Fornari:

    I’m going much lower, John. I’m thinking hay-scented fern, Carex appalachica or pennsylvanica, wintergreen, and Stylophrum. The soil is an “interesting” blend of clay and sand…more clay the further from the lake that we go. for the first phase I’ll use plugs, probably from Northcreek.