The rules of placement and how to break them
GARDENS ARE MARVELOUS places for expanding our powers of seeing. Trust your eye. This does not mean that you should disregard every scrap of conventional wisdom. The trouble is that a lot of good advice ends up in rigid columns thou shalt and thou shalt not because it’s simpler that way. It’s too complicated to add all the modifiers nevertheless in certain situations…, remember, however, that in some cases…,and so on. The basic border commandment relating to height is a perfect example of oversimplification. It’s the one that says tallest at the back, shortest at the front (and guess where plants of middle height go). Slavish adherence to that maxim would result in an arrangement like a school photo tall children standing at the back, middle row sitting on benches, front row cross-legged on the ground, the group usually flanked by two teachers, one at each end of the back row (for discipline or symmetry, one wonders).
That is a photo; this is a garden. The photo is looked at from one angle, head on; every child must be visible (or some parents would want their money back), but we’re thinking here of a garden and of people moving about in it. The special pleasure of a border is that as you walk along the path beside it, you see a changing picture with every step. Read more