We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Constructing and maintaining shrub and perennial gardens is a Maggie's Farm hobby. Here's good gardening advice from a commenter at some gardening site I was looking at the other day:
Take a deep breath and a few steps away from the tree. Look at the package you have created and realize that you are more of a "crammer" than a designer. Your apparent desire is not to better display your specimen but rather to create more room to cram in ever more plants - "I want to be able to have the bottom more open for plants under it."
I believe the overall effect of your landscape would be much improved if you graduated to the design level where you begin an analysis of what you already have and start editing. DIY'ers often fail to realize that as gardens mature, they are dealing with a different set of design parameters than when they began. This present situation requires a different thought process.
When you first began, it was probably "more is better" because you had so much open space to fill. Your landscape has matured to the point that it is now craving some unity and simplification -- yet, here you are trying to figure out how to add even more.
When you go out, do you put on every piece of jewelry that you own or do you select only a few that serve to highlight? Think about your garden in the same way.
1) No DIYers correctly estimate final height and volume of permanent plantings. The specimens look so small when you lay them out, still in their pots... but they grow, remember?
2) The current political economic climate should turn all gardener's attention to edible landscaping. Permanent plantings of fruit and nuts require progressively less effort, while giving great yields.
Instead, most folks focus on energy- and resource-intensive vegetable gardening.
I'm a minimalist myself. I have moved a number of times, and purchased four houses in that madness. I have decided that less is better. One house I owned was landscaped similar to that english picture. the former owner LOVED that jungle look. It took me two years of pruning, digging, removing and replacing before I got it down to what I considered manageable.
When I moved to this house, I started removing the overgrown bushes out front, finding one bush with an 8" trunk, contained a hollow core filled with termites. That was enough incentive to remove all the bushes and replace with a grown cover vine.
Now I find I LOVE to look at my neighbor's meticulously maintained landscape across the street. Look. Not do. I notice he spends at least two days a week maintaining it that way. I think I have better things to do...