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Mastering the Collector’s Garden

There are gardeners that focus on one or two types of plants and strive to collect as many varieties of that plant as they can. They are plant collectors. With COVID  last year, many homeowners had their first taste of gardening (what else could you do during such times?) and some have developed a passion for a particular plant. So what should you do if you wish to establish a collector’s garden? 

Before you dive in too deep with your plant collection, meet with a designer who can analyze your site for compatibility with the plants you wish to collect. How is the soil as well as the sun and water allotments? Will they meet this particular plant’s requirements?

Design: Plot out the new garden space taking into account the number of potential new plants as well as multiples of plants when divisions are required. Or, do you wish to give away divisions? Next, design a pleasing garden with paths, plants for structure, contrast, and winter interest, hardscape elements, and perhaps a water feature. We are not blocking off a 20-by-20 area of the yard and haphazardly adding plants. Rather, we want to create a thoughtful garden designed to showcase the plant collection in the best possible manner. 

Accessibility is quite important. A collector’s garden can become very extensive and easy access to the plants for regular care and enjoyment is imperative.  We don’t want to have to tip-toe through the plants.

Pest and disease management is key to long-term success. This is where regular maintenance visits by professionals in landscaping comes in handy. Not only will they assist with the weeding and routine care of the plants, they also offer a second set of trained eyes to scout out the first hints of plant issues and diseases. 

Cataloging. Plant tags are a must. Metal tags and permanent markers identify plants in the garden. Be sure to back up that identification with photographs, as well as a chart and list of your plants with their location in the landscape and notes on their performance. 

Establishing a collector’s garden is a fascinating way to garden that allows the participant to delve deep into a plant and become a subject matter expert. Don’t be surprised when you find a passersby wanting to tour your garden: it’s a compliment, not an imposition. 

We can help you design, care for and locate those hard to find plants for your new collector’s garden.

Top Image: Adding other features to a collection garden is good design practice. A stone bench works well in this public hosta garden.

Bottom Image: Incorporating other plants to add new colors, textures, and bloom times is common in collector gardens.

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