Simplicity is of the utmost importance when it comes to designing a successful garden. The more you can leave out the simpler it will be and the more successful it will become.
Simplicity is the elimination of unnecessary detail. This is the fundamental principle of success of nearly every plan we create in our daily lives, and this should to be carried through into the planning of your garden. Too much variety or detail in your design creates visual confusion.
Simplicity in planting can be achieved by picking two or three colours that you like, and which work well together. Then repeat this colour scheme in different ways throughout the garden. Keep your décor to a minimum and adhere closely to your theme. Do not be tempted to add a bit here and there because you think it will look nice. Think this through and plan carefully. The result will be worth it.
As your design knowledge expands you can always add materials, or indeed take them away at a later date.
One of the easiest traps to fall into as your own garden designer is to become too interested in plants. We all love plants, me included. However if we give into the temptation to include more and more plants in our gardens we very quickly lose out on achieving simplicity. Chose a few plants that you know you will be very happy to have in your garden and go to work arranging these.
If you are a plant collector rather than somebody who wants to design a garden that is a unified visually pleasing entity there are still things that you can do to achieve some simplicity in your design. Pay particular to reducing or eliminating variation in your hard landscape areas such as paving, fencing and furniture. This will provide you with an uncluttered base from which you can enjoy caring for you collection.
In the first photograph above, concentrating on rose planting with some lower detail achieves simplicity. In the second photograph a really simple design has been arrived at by using trees, some hedging, grasses and a very limited flowering plant palette.
Tip: Where we often get it less than right is in the selection of plant materials. Unless you are a plant collector, severely limit the number of plant varieties that you choose to work with. When you have eliminated every plant that you can safely take out, then take out some more. You are now getting to where you can achieve real simplicity.