Can you ever have too many plants?

Gardeners are all dreamers, I’m sure of it. We look, we imagine and somehow we become responsible for steering our little bubble of the universe into making that dream a reality. Who knows if the reality matches the hazy thoughts we had.

A difficult year in our garden, I’ve certainly been busier starting my new business and all that entails. The drought became a nightmare of endless watering and so for most of the year our garden hasn’t been fun. It’s only now that the pressure of our garden open day over and the return of cooler weather and rain (though still not enough) that I’ve relaxed slightly.

It’s time I admit to myself though that it’s perhaps not how busy I am nor the drought that is the problem. I’ve filled our garden with too many plants. Slowly adding ‘just one more’. Am I a plant addict? If I’m not, I should be able to offload a few…

Our little garden’s problems have shown themselves this year. Too many plants, it’s lost its sense of privacy, too much shade and it’s not as self-sustaining as I would like it to be. I prefer plants that look after themselves. We’re not far off I must say, just a little further to go.

For 2019 I’m now less interested in the endless plant searching, I kinda feel I’ve found and collected all of the plants I love for our garden. One or two will pop up each year but that initial burst in the first year certainly generated the right list and I’m still overjoyed with the plants we now have.

Instead our garden next year must become easier, it must become fun again. In the winter I’m going to assess everything. Plants I’m not bothered about I will give away, making more breathing space for the essentials, growing bigger and more floriferous while reducing work for me. I don’t just hope, I know that the result is that I will love the remaining, healthier plants more.

I’m also increasingly interested in human touches in our garden. My first attempt at cloud pruning was starting to look good before it succumbed to the box caterpillar. Little yew saplings are growing in pots to eventually form a topiary shape I have imagined from the very first day of drawing our garden and yes, I still want to complete it.

Watering all of these little pots was not in the original vision for our garden

Throughout winter I’ll make a plan to open tree canopies for more sunlight, I’ll make sure little gaps are filled for privacy and I’m going to the huge effort of making sure all compost in pots is totally renewed. I want the plants to have the best start in life next year.

I keep having new ideas for our garden, a total blank canvas fresh start. I’m so tied to the original dream now I don’t think I would have the heart to do it so I’m set on merging these ideas in to help reduce the workload and keep things evolving. Those I can’t I’m stockpiling for a rainy day in a bigger garden. One dream I’m quite sure every single gardener shares.

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Can you ever have too many plants?

  1. Never too many plants!
    On your first picture, each plant has its appropriate place, you can’t remove anyone!
    Nevertheless I presume all these(nice) little pots are asking some work…
    My city garden is 3 years old and I planted small trees et big shrubs; in 8 or 10 years it will be a jungle. But to find a new plant is such a pleasure!

  2. Ha! Lucky you don’t own a greenhouse. Or do you? Catalogues are the worst for creating PAS (Plant Acquisition Syndrome).

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