pot-622670_1280You’d think planting was easy. You simply dig a hole, put the seed or plant in it, fill the hole back up and perhaps give the new baby a drink of water.

Not so fast!

Have you considered the type of soil, the exposure to sun or shade, the drainage? Is your plant likely to be eaten by deer, rabbits, slugs?

Of course you’ve considered those things. They’re basic. But have you considered whether you are a masser or a dotter?

In other words, do you mass a lot of the same plants together or do you dot them around one at a time? If you buy a tray of pansies or lobelia or petunias do they go into a patch together or do you like them better when they are one here and one there? Do you prefer the Wow! effect of several all contributing to one glorious splash of colour? Or do you like each to stand alone and offer its beauty individually?

Maybe it depends on your eye. Does your eye prefer to see the cumulative effect of the whole garden or the specific shape and color of each single plant?

I read somewhere recently that if you are planting say, three plants of the same kind, you should plant them in a triangle, fairly close together rather than in a straight line. At the time I thought that was because straight lines can be boring in a garden and some form of triangle is more interesting. The eye somehow finds it more appealing.

But that isn’t the reason at all. Apparently each plant provides some deep help and support to its neighbors and this can be done more fully if all three plants are closer together rather than the two at the ends of the line being further separated.

My mind plays with this concept. Does the middle plant of a straight line get all the help and grow ahead of its companions? Or does help get sucked from it in two directions with only half the return. Perhaps you need to be a mathematician to understand it.

So the question becomes – are you planting for your own pleasure or for the happiness of the plant?

Happiness of the plant?? Well, how many times have you heard a gardener say, “I planted it here but it wasn’t happy so I moved it over there and now it blooms twice a year.”? So clearly the happiness (or not) of the plant is important.

You might as well consider the happiness of the plant because if you plant for your own pleasure you’ll find a world full of critics. If you like the gentle anarchy of the English cottage garden style you’ll find some people turn up their noses and call it  ‘a mess’. If you like everything in straight lines with red and white flowers alternating some people will call it regimental or robotic.

It all comes down to the planting. What, how and where?

The advice of most old gardeners – plant what you love, what delights you. Try to follow the advice on the label or in your gardening book as you dig your plant a generous hole so it can relax and spread its roots. Then give it a shot of, say, bone meal or something similarly nutritious and a drink of water. If that doesn’t work move the plant before it turns up its toes and actually dies.




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