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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – May 26

Without thinking, answer this: If you don’t see the same shrub planted on either side of the front door, would this drive you crazy every time you pull into the driveway? Symmetrical people would always answer, “Yes.”

When I do a design consultation, one of my first questions is, “So, are you a symmetrical person or an asymmetrical person?” I always hasten to add that there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. People are one way or the other, and I’m convinced it’s a matter of how the brain is hard-wired. You’re either a symmetrical person or you’re not. Note to neurology students: there’s a PHD thesis in this.

Symmetrical people might not need mirror image foundation plantings on each side of the house but they definitely want to see matching shrubs flank the doorstep. Asymmetrical people just want an attractive entry, no matter which plants are used.

When we design gardens, balance is important. There shouldn’t be several huge, heavy shrubs on one side of the house and a few small, wispy plants on the other. For some people, however, balance means “the same” while others would define it as an overall sense of equilibrium that is not identical but is compatible.

In garden design and in life, it’s most important to first know our own minds.

This gardener opted for balance not symmetry. There is no right or wrong here, just personal preference.


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