Fabulous Mass Plantings for Fall

Ornamental grasses surround a stone sculpture.

Ornamental grasses surround a stone sculpture.

On tour through the Garden Conservancy, a stunning private Fairfield County, Conn. garden provided an inspiring lesson in mass planting. Created by AHBL Landscape Architects of Seattle, Wash., the 8-acre garden featured modern sculptures set in oceans of fall blooming perennials and ornamental grasses.

A huge circle of rudbeckia bisected by a decorative pool

A huge circle of rudbeckia bisected by a decorative pool

Mass plantings of grasses and native perennials have been popularized by Dutch landscape designers such a Piet Oudolf, and have often been displayed in design trend magazines such as Garden Design and Architectural Digest. This was my first time actually walking through such a garden, and I was amazed by its sheer size and impact. Plants were used not in groups of 3 or 5, but in groups of hundreds.

Geometric beds of weigela "Midnight Rose" and black mondo grass

Geometric beds of weigela "Midnight Rose" and black mondo grass

The garden was a juxtaposition of strong structure and soft plantings, of modern, geometric beds set against rolling fields and woods. Although I do not usually garden on such a grand scale, this garden was terrific inspiration for creating a “wow factor” with magnificent swaths of plants.

Sculptural metal containers with black mondo grass

Sculptural metal containers with black mondo grass

Poolside hedge of Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

Poolside hedge of Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'