Simple does not mean stupid. Don’t underestimate the intelligence behind the less complicated look for gardens.
DESIGN WISE | It’s been two decades since gardening became a fashionable endeavor in North America. If we’ve learned anything during this time, over and above garden history and plant vocabulary, it’s that maintaining a garden is damn hard work. Only those who love mucking about in the dirt survive and thrive in the trenches.
This knowledge, plus a fascination with mid-20th-century modernist architecture and the gardens that went along with them, has lead to the pursuit of simple, (and hopefully) low maintenance planting schemes.
The current modern garden is very different from the historic version (CHECK OUT Garrett’s Eckbo’s California designs from the 1950s), which was as static as an 18th century parterre and—let’s be honest—as botanically boring. Today home gardeners and garden design pros come at modernism with serious plant awareness.
Right now, I’m fascinated by the work of two landscape designers who use mass planting to great effect: San Francisco’s Andrea Cochran, who will be coming to Vancouver to speak this fall (CLICK HERE to see her gardens) and Belgium’s Piet Blanckaert, who designed the artist’s garden pictured at the top of the story with just eight different plants (CLICK HERE for a great story on this garden in Garden Design magazine; CLICK HERE to see more of his work).
For anyone with scant amount of time to spend in the garden, a limited palette of long lasting, animated perennials that can take care of themselves (CLICK HERE for our story on Nepata Walker’s low, the purple plant pictured above), or grasses that look different with each season (like the large bed of miscanthus, directly above) can be a really smart way, less laborious, easy care to go. —Ron Rule
Ron Rule is a well-known residential garden designer in Vancouver. He is the founder and head of the Certificate In Garden Design program at the University of B.C.
Photos, top to bottom: Philippe Perdereau via Garden Design magazine; Ron Rule