Garden unity is easy to achieve but it does require a little mind shift from our everyday thinking.
From the time we are little we are taught to pair things up. The animals boarded two by two, two shoes, two socks, two people is a couple and a third person would be "odd man out". When planning your garden you need to shift to groupings with odd numbers. It can take a little time to get used to it, but the results will be very pleasing.
Using The Numbers
1 item or plant is often used to create a focal point.A tree, large shrub or tall statue are examples of focal points where you only need one item.
While the typical yard will allow for a dozen or so focal points you want to vary the sizing on them.
The redbud tree is the main focal point when you first walk into the yard.
The burning bush which is in the corner is a secondary focal point for the yard. It is larger than the plantings around it yet smaller than the tree. You can see the burning bush when you first walk into the yard but the tree grabs your attention first. The burning bush grabs your attention once you get closer to it and the tree moves out of your line of vision.
3 medium sized items or plants creates mass and interest.One medium sized plant by itself looks lonely. A dozen medium sized plants all of differnt colors and shapes planted together looks like a crazy quilt, you don't know where to focus first.
Using a grouping of three like items or plants together creates a better visual appearance.
These three pots are similiar in color and shape. They fit into the scale of the planting.
They are large enough to be seen individually but small enough that they don't take over the garden.
They create an interest in that you want to now explore the rest of the garden to see if there are any other hidden treasures spread throughout it.
I'm allowed to say that because the picture came from my yard. We are terracing off the hillside and moving some plants around. The crabapple tree on the left was just put into that spot, the two other plants in the picture will be moved elsewhere. So while they were there I thought the picture was worth showing you as a What Not To Do example!
There are three items together and of various heights but they are so different. They do not fit well together. You can't look at that grouping and feel welcomed or calm. Once the two plants are moved and the grass is planted on the soil it will be more inviting.
I could fix this area by adding two more Abelia plants around the base of the crabapple tree. That would help unify the planting and create more interest. My other half wants grass up there so he'll get his way this time!
5-7 is used for smaller items and for very large areas.Three snapdragon plants grouped together will get lost in a garden bed but if you put five or seven of them together you'll have a large enough grouping to see them from afar.
Five to seven boxwood shrubs in one flower bed will create too large of a mass.
Use onesies of large items, shrubs and trees.
Why do those numbers have to do with Garden Unity?Garden Unity is when the individual areas of your yard fit together to create a big picture.
The way to bring unity to an area is through repetition by groupings of colors, shape and form.
Lets say you have a flower bed at the foundation of your house and one that is separated from that by a driveway. Two seperate yard areas that can be unified by using a few of the same plants or by using the same colors.
One black-eyed susan plant in each spot isn't going to create the garden unity you are aiming for. (not in the first two years anyway!) Since they are medium sized plants a group of three in each area will give you the desired look. Knowing how many plants to use in a grouping will help you to easily create garden unity.
A green thumb is nothing more than hard work and the desire to make things grow.
Albert E. Tuttle