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Combine 7 Plants in 7+ Ways to Create a Beautiful Garden

Let's say you've come up with a palette of plants that you think works well together. It doesn't particularly matter how you got there. Maybe you dreamed it up yourself, saw it online or in-person, or perhaps you were inspired by one of the many plant combinations here on the eGardenGo site. Admittedly, I'm a bit biased, but I think that you'll find that the plant combos here on the eGardenGo site are especially good starting points if you're gardening in the Pacific Northwest.

SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE: All the plants in your palette must share the same cultural requirements—i.e. hardiness, exposure, soil and water needs, etc. So if you're searching for plants on eGardenGo, you'll want to make sure to adjust the search filters to reflect your zone and the cultural conditions of your site, so that only plants that'll thrive in your conditions will be included in your results. In addition, you'll want to add on top of these criteria any aesthetic and functional qualities you desire—for example, size and shape, texture and color, persistence of foliage. Is there something you need the plant to DO for you? If so, make sure it's up for the job.

Selecting a palette of plants that work well together from both a cultural and aesthetic standpoint is an important first step. But once you've chosen the plants you'll use in your combination, getting them laid out in an artful, organized, and logical fashion can be daunting until you get the hang of it.

In this post, I'm going to show you seven plants that have been carefully selected based on culture and aesthetics, arranged in a variety of different layouts. In each layout the plants are situated in different ways in order to fit different garden bed shapes and situations.  Using these layouts as your guide, you'll be able to adapt the plant combination to your garden more easily.

At first, the layouts are based on a description of the plants versus specific, individual plants. The emphasis is on creating a composition that takes into consideration the shape, size, texture, color, and other qualities of each plant in order to create an artful and pleasing vignette. In other words, rather than starting with a Quick Fire Hydrangea, we start with a "medium-sized flowering shrub with strong three-season performance." There's quite a few plants that fit that description, among them is Hydrangea paniculata 'Bulk' Quick Fire.

Spending most of your time describing and defining the plants that will make up your combination will give you lots more options to consider. In turn, this will make your final plant selections easier and you'll end up making better choices. With continued practice, you'll learn to adjust the basic layouts to work with a variety of different plants.


And now, an example. The graphic symbols below are used in the planting layouts in the following section. Each symbol corresponds to the description of that particular plant. If you follow the links, you'll be taken to search results that include plants that match the description.

Be warned, it's not 100% failsafe. It's still important to examine the options carefully to confirm that they truly match the description. You'll want to pay special attention to size and, as mentioned above, the cultural requirements. Though not perfect, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at some of the iterations and derivations you can come up with using this method.

To see this method in action, three different derivations of related plant combinations are shown below. Notice that the schemes have been adjusted and modified for different growing conditions.

Small-scale tree with four-season appeal— attractive bark in winter is especially desired. Optimal size" 12-16' tall and 8-12' wide.
Evergreen shrub or conifer with enough height and density to make a suitable backdrop, though still remain relatively narrow. Optimal size: 4' wide and 5 to 8' tall.
 Evergreen conifer or shrub with fine texture. Optimal size: 3-4' wide and 2-3' tall.
 Flowering shrub with strong three-season performance. Optimal size: 6' wide and 4-6' tall.
Bold, coarse foliage (ideally evergreen) to provide contrast to finer textures of its partners. Optimal size: 2½-3' wide and 18-30 inches tall. 
Flowing, billowy, grassy texture. Presumed deciduous, but evergreen would be A-okay too. Optimal size: 18-24 inches tall and wide.
 Hard-working, low-maintenance, and long-flowering perennial to mingle and bob throughout.

Seven Different Planting Plans

Flip through the slide carousel to see the seven plants laid out in a variety of different ways. An important consideration is whether your garden scene will be viewed only from one side or will you be able to walk all around it?

Plant Palette #1

This planting combination has a planting plan with SEVEN different layout options available to download for a small fee. Even if you don't anticipate planting this combination in your garden, examining the layouts is an excellent way to get a sense of how this method works. Click through for details!

Planting Plan Gif

Plant Palette #2

Plant Palette #3

Published January 04, 2020

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