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Rows vs Clusters

SOS or maybe SOG (Save our Garden!)

We are new gardeners and want to re-develop the border in our front garden.  

Our initial idea was to plant in the flowers in rows according to size and time of year for flowering for each variety; going from small at the front to large, thus creating a dominio effect. However, I (the wife!) have now thrown planting clusters into the mix.

We would really appreciate any advice on the pro's and cons of rows vs clusters.

The plants on our list are:

Snowdrops, Bluebells (our 4 year old's favorite), Tulips, Alliums, Agapanthus (another fave) and Nerines.

Thank you!

Matt and Becky


  • B3B3 Posts: 27,024

    plant in clusters. the only things to plant in rows are hedges and vegetables

    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,367

    groupings every time for me but it's about what you'd like to see come flowering time.

    Don't forget they won't all flower at the same time.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Clusters every time but good idea to plant tall at the back, short at the front.  For some reason, groups of 3, 5, 7 or 9 look better to the eye than clusters of an even number of plants or bulbs. image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • plant pauperplant pauper Posts: 6,904

    If you want an example of group planting on here go to a thread called overwhelmed by front garden design and check out the pics that northern lass has posted of her garden. Stunning!

  • You should look at other people's gardens and open gardens such as National Trust and really analyse why things look good or not so good. My style is to echo what happens in the wild - for instance you don't see bluebells growing in a row.

  • Your solution is to plant clusters in rows! A single tulip might just be visible, but individual snowdrops or bluebells will have no impact at all. Plant several small groups along the border and then you will see little patches of colour. You can do the same with the tulips, using fewer  bulbs as they have larger flowers, and then you can have fun with different colours too. If you have large flowered alliums they look good planted singly, but only if emerging from an understorey of other established plants. Otherwise plant in threes.

    Agapanthus grow large enough to plant on their own, but small plants take a year or two to make much of an impact. You would do better to buy one decent size agapanthus and plant it in a pot. Then you can move it about to where you want it. Depending on where you live and the variety you choose, many, (or in my case most, very cold here!) agapanthus need winter protection so the pot can be brought under cover then.

    Also be aware that plants do their own thing! Your snowdrops and bluebells will seed themselves and the clumps will spread, and odd ones will pop up in other places. Alliums will likely do the same. If all the babies survive (watch out for them while weeding!) in a year or two your tidy clumps will have a more natural look. Any that are in completely the wrong place can be moved to somewhere more suitable. The tulips don't do this and will probably disappear or be much reduced, so they are best planted fresh each year. Your agapanthus should eventually grow to a size where you can split it and then you will have two for the price of one!

    I would also suggest that you add some small flowered daffodils such as Tete a tete or Minnow to the border as they will flower in the gap between the snowdrops and the bluebells and tulips. You can also spread the tulip display if you choose carefully as some flower later than others. Happy gardening!

  • Thank you all very much for taking the time to reply to us.

    All your comments are really helpful and I think some planning and looking around is what is in order now!

    Thank you again, Becky


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