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Garden as Design versus Garden as Collection of Plants

Recently I attended an auction of the New England Hosta Society where the hosta called  ‘Lachman’s Legacy’ sold for $650.   Clearly the buyer really wanted that hosta.

The price, however,  seemed like a lot of money to pay for one plant.

That is when it hit me: there is a difference between a garden design and a garden as a collection of plants.

In the eighteenth and  nineteenth centuries it was common for English gardeners to have an “American garden” on their property.  Such a garden was a collection of plants from America, often our native plants like rhododendron.

This blue hosta surrounded by Solomon Seal is Hosta 'Blue Cadet'. plated over 20 years ago, in my garden
This blue hosta surrounded by Solomon Seal is Hosta ‘Blue Cadet’, planted over 20 years ago in my garden, and only one in my own collection of hostas.

It is quite common for gardeners to collect plants, but difficult sometimes to fit them into the home landscape.  Such gardeners appear more interested in showcasing the latest plant.

On the other hand, landscape designers choose plants that fit into their artistic expression for the landscape.  A plant finds a home here because it makes sense in the property’s overall design.

Plant collectors sometimes show a cluttered landscape when they seem to run out of room to place a new plant.

We have  landscape gardeners, people whose concern is the design of the landscape, and we also have plant collectors.

Can a garden express both views of plants? I think that is difficult.

What do you think?

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