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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – May 4

As I walk around my gardens at Poison Ivy Acres and past neighboring properties, I’m reminded that planting in puddles is a practical design choice. Many people choose to use a line of plants as a border but if they’re planting perennials I’d issue a word of caution: when placing plants in a line, think about what will happen if one or more of those plants die.

If the plant you’ve chosen is young you’ll have to replace those that haven’t made it though the winter. If the plants are older you’ll have more trouble putting something that matches in maturity and variety in the empty areas. Either way, sometimes it’s impossible to replace a selection that matches and your neat and tidy border suddenly looks odd.

Lines of annuals? Not as much of a problem. The worst that can happen in that situation is you have an awkward planting for one season. But with perennials and shrubs, watch out.

For all but the most formal landscapes, a long line of one plant is asking for trouble. Groups of plants, aka puddles, are attractive even if one or more don’t make it. A line, aka border, is problematic…in my experienced but with-eyes-open opinion, of course.

A new landscape on a neighboring property was planted with a line of Hakonechloa macra, a lovely grass but one that's better used in groups not a line. This planting is a case in point - one has died, making the entire landscape look awkward.

When perennials are planted in groups, as this garden of hosta and Labrador violets are, it will look good even if a plant or two don't make it.

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