Tuesday, January 11, 2011


In the next several weeks, I'll be starting a new project on the grounds that is going to utilize the idea of repetition.  Many successful gardeners use this idea to bring their spaces together. Through the use of same/ similiar plants, a unified bond is created in the garden that makes everything look planned out and organized. People's eyes are naturally drawn to these groupings of plants. Here are several ways to do this......

Lantana planted in a row makes a nice pathway into your home from the garden.

One is to put the same plant in various spots around the garden to "balance" out the landscape.  By doing this, the garden will feel even.  Second is to put a row of plants together either to create a natural fence or a barrier to hide a road or a neighbor's yard.  There are many other uses for barriers but these are just a couple that come to mind.  What are some plants that I use for repetition in the gardens?  Prickly Pear, San Pedro Cactus, Oleander, Nandina, Bouganvillea, Mexican Palms, Buddha's Belly Bamboo, and Lantana. This is what works in my area but you are by no means limited.  This can be used with ANY plant! So how do I organize the plants stated above at my place?

Roses, grouped together, create a color patch around trees, ramadas, etc.
Let's start with nerium first. The oleanders here are all red flowers(I like this color), check to make sure you have the same color before purchasing and make sure you purchase them all together.  The best time to do this is when the oleanders have flowers on them at your local gardening center.  Here they are placed along a rotting fence and will eventually create a natural fence.  The Nandina is planted sporadically around the property just to balance out the random/showcase plants in other places.  This plant is prominently used in the courtyard and in the North Planters.  Bamboo is placed in the Southern planters because they love the sun. Lantana is used to create a natural walkway to guide visitors onto the property.

Oleander makes a wonderful natural fence
Here are the best parts.  What is the minimal number of plants used to create this unifying look in the garden? The answer.... 3.  For some reason, a repetition of 3 seems to be the magic number. How do you use it in your own garden?  Well for example, I put all my Mexican Birds of Paradise together to create a ferny patch in front of our Canary Palm.  We also have a random HUGE palm growing on the property that had nothing to match it so I purchased 2 other palms and spread them out on the courtyard.  This will eventually create the holy triad and make that lonely palm fit in with everything else.

Bamboo can create a wonderful private screen.
Pairs.  They are also fine like our two large oak trees or bouganvilleas that "frame" the entrance ways or create a canopy over our courtyard. Note that I used the word "frame" with two plants.  Groupings also work well.....like in rose gardens.

Ferny leaves can create a similiar plantings effect....and another way to look at repetition....
You mentioned cactus.  How do you use these? Any place that a trespasser can cross is where a Prickly Pear or San Pedro cactus will be located which leads me into my project for this spring. I will be placing 10 whiskey barrels together that will create a unified cactus garden and make our front entrance pop.....and it will protect our front property from people who don't belong there.  In the upcoming month, I'll have more reporting and images using this idea of repetition.

Too many palms together....much better spread out over a larger area.
Repetition with similiar/same plants allows you to showcase your favorite trees, bushes, or smaller plants. It allows you to play around with new designs over the years within a natural design.  Try it out and see what happens:)  Until next time, happy gardening!
The project on the property for Spring.  The front will be redressed with a repetitive cactus garden in whiskey barrels.


  1. Repetition in my garden: Turneras ulmiforme/diffusa/subulata. This concept when planned and revised continually, gives one's garden signature. It will separate it from the rest in remarkable ways.

    When the effect is achieved, it is moticeable when walking and observing shapes, forms. from different angles and distances.

    At any rate, if one is not pleased whatever could be relocated...That is the way I deal with mine.

    Good luck in your projects...and excellent post.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful sharing. I grew my sunflowers in 3s and 9s in many different patches. That was just plain repetition by accident. They look all right but I often wonder if they would have been more impressive if grown together in one big patch. Would love to see your whiskey barrels. Wish I could get hold of them but I don't see them in my country.

  3. Very cool ideas. You are talking about 1/2 whiskey barrels right? I have a couple of those in the back. I use repetition as a border in my front succulent planter. I have river rock placed all around the edge and inside this I have planted echeveria glauca. They are filling in nicely.

  4. Repetition... some of us repeat plants because we can keep 'em! When I find something that sustains, I want 20 more! Vincas for ground cover. Asparagus fern for blasts. Trumpet vines and cape honeysuckle for the hummingbirds. Grape vine and a pumpkin patch for us humans. And tomatoes and jalapenos in garden pots. You have given me hope that I can grow a wider array!
    We bought several 'covering sheets' from the Goodwill again. Last year, we had fewer plants to cover. This year, our gazebo was stuffed full of 'portable' plants, and the vines grew like ghosts off the walls. But... it looks like our freezes are over??

  5. These are all great points. Sometimes we stick with what is safe and will grow...because let's face it, it's expensive to buy plants. Brenda, I love the wild grape vine! It's like a weed on our property but it covers our ramada beautifully. As for the frost, I think the severe frost we had was a rare event, but I am still prepping for more frosty nights...but not the week long kind.:( That was terrible....moving pots into the shed was backbreaking!


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