In the Garden:
Southern Coasts
April, 2001
Regional Report

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Oxeye daisies bloom for weeks in the perennial garden and multiply rapidly.

Simple Garden Design

The familiar refrain "Keep it simple" sums up my attitude toward garden design. In my experience, making elaborate plans can lead to disaster. This story is a good example. A friend of mine got fascinated with a host of different plants and filled her backyard garden border behind the swimming pool with them. They grew well but the location was a problem. Each browned leaf and faded flower stood out and occupied her mind. Trying to relax by the pool, all she could see were the imperfections in her garden. It drove her nuts until she finally moved the whole thing to the more forgiving side yard, where imperfections were less obvious. Now the pool view is four big palm trees and a neat ground cover. It's a simpler and easier design to care for.

Designing Single Beds

My solution to garden design is a bit different. I look at each new garden bed and decide how complicated I want it to be before planting. If I want a hosta collection, I fill the bed with them for easy care and a stunning, elegantly simple effect. To combine different plants, I go for single flowers because you can put more of them in a bed without visual chaos erupting. Their impact in the garden is to produce an open, welcoming style, implying an uncomplicated, straightforward attitude.

Grow Simple Plants

Another way to design simply is to grow easy-care plants. Perhaps my favorite is the oxeye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum). This perennial flower naturalized from European imports brought here long ago. Its bright green leaves and profuse flowers reach about 2 feet tall, and the clumps multiply rapidly so I'll have plenty to spread around. I use them as a unifying element with roses and other perennials in full sun. You divide the clumps in late summer or fall when they start producing puny stems that don't hold up as well in arrangements.


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