Setting limits

I tend to garden with lots of enthusiasm and am always tempted into buying new plants even when I don’t know where they could possibly go in my garden. I know that a lot of gardeners are the same way, deriving much pleasure from getting to know new cultivars that have come on the market and expanding their repertoire of plants. The key to avoiding having the garden look like a disorganized plant collection is having a legible structure. This could be as simple as surrounding a bed full of a cacophony of plant types with a uniform boundary or hedge. The classic here is box hedging, with the added benefit of structure for the winter garden. The reason that a low surrounding hedge works so well is that it gives the garden a sort of narrative: the evenly trimmed, finely textured, uniformity of the hedge gives the idea of the ordering hand of the gardener, the tangle of plants contained within it give the idea of the generosity of nature, its sheer exuberance and multiplicity. The stronger the contrast between these two (the container/hegde and the contained/plants) the stronger this narrative will be. Not to say that a stronger effect is better here, just that the forcefulness of this narrative can be adjusted to the level prefered. In effect, such a garden is a manifestation of all gardening: it shows visually what we do as gardeners, namely get excited by the plenitude of natural forms and give them a place to unfold.