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Well designed gardens are known for their sweeps and swaths of the same plant. Onesies are frowned upon — plant in groups of threes, or better yet five or even seven. But how can I possibly have room for all the cool plants if I do it that way? Thus I’ve resigned myself to having a “collectors garden” — not that there’s anything wrong with that — but it’s a label that (I’m being honest here) left me feeling a little “less than.” Like my garden was nice, but with an asterisk.

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' 1
A large clump of Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ is joined by another of the solid green Hakonechloa on the left.

All that changed recently during a conversation with Patricia. She was ruminating on the design of her garden and said something about need to repeat plants “like you do so well…” What? But I’ve got a collectors garden, it’s random, unorganized! Then she started naming off all the plants that are repeated through my garden. Not in sweeps and swaths but overall. Creating a different kind of unity but unity none-the-less.

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' 2
Just a few feet away — another clump of Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of this grass over the years and so was quite surprised I could still count 9 plants in my garden.

I can’t remember if she used the phrase “the unifiers” or if that’s something that I thought up later. But I like it, and you know what, I’ve got quite a few! In fact the more I looked, the more I started to wonder why I hadn’t seen this for myself. I guess we are always our own worst critics though, aren’t we?

Syneilesis aconitifolia
Syneilesis aconitifolia, one of two large clumps in the back garden.

In an attempt to look at my garden wish fresh eyes I walked around and snapped these photos of repeated plants and themes. Eventually I had to stop because I had so many, who knew? Thank you Patricia for seeing my garden in a way I never had…

Yucca rostrata and Trachycarpus wagnerianus
Yucca rostrata and Trachycarpus wagnerianus. I had to think about it and was surprised to realize there are 8 Y. rostrata of varying sizes throughout the garden (this is the largest) and 3 Trachycarpus: 1 wagnerianus and 1 T. fortunei.
dish planters
Plants aren’t the only thing I’ve repeated. Since creating my first trio of dish planters in 2013 I’ve expanded the collection to include this pair and another. Most recently I’m scheming on a pair in the stock tank pond…
Schefflera taiwaniana
I still remember the hunt for my first Schefflera taiwaniana, now there are 3!
Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' and Schefflera taiwaniana
Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’ and Schefflera taiwaniana — as well as a stock tank planter. You’ll see all of these elsewhere in the garden too…
Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' and stock tank
Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’ (one of 5) and another stock tank.
stock tanks
Lots of stock tanks! This Agave is A. weberi.
Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' and Yucca rostrata
Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’ and Yucca rostrata in the front garden.
Euphorbia rigida
Same as above but add in multiple Euphorbia rigida, planted (self seeded) by Mother Nature herself.
Yucca rostrata and Sedum NOID
A pair of Yucca rostrata and another Agave, this one A. americana
Opuntia NOID
Repeated Opuntia are another theme, unfortunately I don’t know the name of these as they were gifted from a neighbor.
Opuntia basilaris and Yucca gloriosa 'Walbristar'
Opuntia basilaris and Yucca gloriosa ‘Walbristar’
Yucca filamentosa
Yucca repetition in the hell strip. Yucca filamentosa and Y. filamentosa ‘Color Guard’.
Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific'
Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’ — a ground-cover plant to tie it all together in the front garden. I planted 5 after losing 3 mature Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’.
Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red'
Callistemon ‘Woodlander’s Hardy Red’ — there are a total of 3 of this particular species but 9 total Callistemon in the garden.

You know, now I’m starting to wonder if I don’t need to diversify a bit…