MASSING

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Alliums massed 

I’ve just come in from the garden where I’ve been moving plants around to mass them together. I love the effect of massing plants – large swathes of color, form and texture bundled together strategically to create drama and excitement. The most excitement is when they are in bloom, but even when not, massed foliage makes a statement. I attempt to use massing to move the  eye though the landscape, its fun to plot how I want people to experience the garden. The hardscaping is set in stone, literally, but with strategic massing I can imitate movement and make the plant flow directional, which leads the eye. It’s a fun game of manipulation visitors don’t even realize is happening. I used to think I massed plants because I was a lazy gardener, and it seemed easier to me to put blocks of plants together. I realize now that I like massing because I have always preferred strong visual graphics. Massing creates strong dramatic scenes in the garden. I have massed peonies, geraniums, daylillies, astrantia, astilbe, azaleas, anemones, veronicastrum, veronicas, geums, dianthus, lambs ear, camassia, salvia, asters, sedums, hellebores….I like to mass! Of course, there are vignettes in my garden which are petit and graceful, and they will force me to stop me in my tracks to admire them. They mostly occur in the garden by accident, the geums nestled next to geranium sanguine stratum huddled beneath a Miss Kim lilac, entwined with some rogue Sweet Woodruff – none of this vignette was planned, Mother Nature made it happen. These vignettes are the details in the larger canvas of my mostly massed garden. I can’t decide which method I prefer, but I do choose which method I plant, and I choose massing. I’m kinda of an in your face kinda gal.

9 thoughts on “MASSING

  1. I love alliums and massed plantings. I don’t like dying allium foliage or bare ground. Your photo shows a municipal planting and I hope that soon those bulbs will be replaced. More than that, though, I wish they’d planted something with the alliums to hide the foliage and ground.

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    1. IT seems every plant has a drawback, even alliums. Yes, the early yellowing foliage is an eyesore, an underplanting of something, perhaps geranium Biokovo, would work well. This all being true, however, the effect of this mass planting across from the Boston Public Library was stunning. I only had my iPhone camera to use, so I couldn’t get a wideangle shot, which diminished the impact. Also, the photo is static so the yellow leaves are more noticeable – in the moment, standing in front of the alliums, the full force of their color and form was enough of a distraction from the yellow leaves.

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  2. I think my favorite flowers to see massed are Dahlias. One of the most compelling borders I ever saw was a long row of nothing but Dahlias — one block of cultivar or variety after the other.
    it was, a little oddly, at William the Conqueror’s castle in Caen, France.

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    1. I can imagine Dahlias being very effective – bulbs (and tubers!) seem to be popular for massing. Their blooms and are so impressive, traits which are magnified by massing. Of course, being the only gardener in my garden, I gravitate towards massing plants that do not have to be lifted and replanted!!! I have a long peony border, it’s spectalular in bloom, and the foliage can stand on its on the rest of the year

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    2. Dahlias are dramatic blooms…I have read that the Queen of England has dahlias massed at her Scottish estate, Balmoral.Of course, she, and I assume her ancestor William the Conqueror, have large garden staff.

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  3. I just went on a local garden tour and one gardener is passionate about dahlias. She has a long walkway lined with dahlias on both sides. Unfortunately the tour was too early for bloom, but I have an invitation to return and take pictures. the idea was so inspiring I ran out and bought three dahlia plants in bloom for my new garden. It’s not a mass planting, but who knows what I’ll do next year. Looking forward to seeing you in Minneapolis.

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    1. Yes, that’s good massing. I like it. Of course, we can’t please everyone who comes to visit the garden, so I please myself. Those who lack the imagination to appreciate a massed border don’t have to come back.

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