Why Mass Plantings Are Beautiful

Member Spotlight: This is a guest post re-published from GrowIt! community member @daisy96’s blog “Sienna Mae Heath’s Writing: The Art of Savoring Time.” Check out all of her posts and subscribe to her blog here. Connect with her on GrowIt! here. (tap from mobile)

Considering my last post summarized a flurry of experiences, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what’s really on my mind: LANDSCAPING. More specifically, landscaping with mass plantings.

Creating a piece of art, whimsical yet intentional

Last year I insisted on planting “all the things!” Guess what? It was a mess. I realized that I’ll likely live many years and CAN plant everything my heart desires – one mass planting at a time. No matter how many old lady seasoned gardeners advised me on this, I had to learn this lesson for myself.

At the flower tent, my new friend spoke of buying at least three of the same plant. “It makes more of an impact,” she said.

Now I’m finally listening.

On a rainy day in early April, I pulled over to the greenhouse closest to my work. Spring fever had hit me; I was dying to plant my first pot of annuals (do you know the feeling?!). This time I had a plan — mainly purple pansies. Not only do they withstand the last frost and even snow (which has been known to fall during April or May in Pennsylvania), pansies are my absolute favorite annual flower.

The shopping experience feels vastly different when you’re on a mission like this. I looked out at the sea of pansies and remember – this year, try a color scheme to pick up the purple shades of salvia and catmint budding in my front yard. I scrutinize every purple pansy in this greenhouse – classic dark with a single eye, a faint shade of lilac, a stray cheery face of bold white and purple, and finally the winner – violas pouring from their pots. I gather these little girls, and the cashier looks down at my boxes and says, “Wow, this looks like a wildflower garden!”

I giggled to myself: After investing all this effort into a traditional planting style, she still thinks my collection looks like a wildflower garden.

Driving home this year with three boxes full of purple pansies (and, I admit, a six-pack of solid yellow ones) paled in comparison to last year’s shopping spree. Rather than glance back at an assorted rainbow of faces in cool mauve and purple & hot red and yellow…I saw the result of several graceful paint-strokes in my backseat. A conscious choice to create a piece of art.

Maintaining a focal point in the chaos

My adventure in May was to find cascading geraniums – adding a European feel to my window boxes. My friend Karyn recommended A&H Greenhouses, which doesn’t even have an online presence (so that was a good sign). Upon my arrival, I entered geranium heaven. Yes, I found my cascading geraniums…but once again I swam in a sea of color. Tall, blooming geraniums lined the back of the greenhouse. True crimson red, red-orange, hot pink, cool pink, coral, lavender, white, multi-color mixes.

FOCUS. Wait, I have a plan. Deep red geraniums for my backyard, to later complement the emerging hot-colored sunflowers, marigolds, nasturtium and Persian Carpet zinnia.

I drove home with four deep red geraniums and one hot pink that I couldn’t resist. As I marched to my backyard, I dubbed this year: The Year of Geranium.

I love geraniums. They’re a thriller, filler, and spiller all at once. They create ideal focal points for the garden. In my crazy backyard, I’m growing many works in progress – a wildflower garden, vegetable garden, and moon garden. Like a scattered mind, it desperately needs some direction. Among the newly established vegetable sprouts, volunteer sunflowers, spinach and weeds…hangs a red geranium in the arched entrance-way and a matching one perched on a tree stump planter. Despite the chaos, you can’t stop staring at those focal points.

I’m starting to realize that less is more. Hopefully I can be that old lady (of 27) to convince you that mass plantings are beautiful. I’ll try to continue this practice, but my wildflower garden will always provide a home for impulse buys out of my color scheme.