Artists know all about the magic number three when composing their work, the idea of grouping things in odd numbers rather than even, and three seems to be the most popular uneven number to work with. That works when arranging a dish garden as well. Not only do three plants work well together, but also trying for three different textures and shapes when choosing those three plants will create a more interesting and pleasing arrangement in your little dish garden.

This garden contains not only three plants, but three different textures and shapes with coordinating color. You may also notice that there are also three pieces of colored glass with a matching touch of pink as accents. The cactus is a mammillaria which I have not been able to identify, but I have always enjoyed the snowy white spines with the magenta flowers. Behind it is a clump of gasteria lilliputana, so named for its small size, and a nice obregonia denegrii.

Again the use of three plants with three very different textures and shapes. The one that looks like grass is ledebooria crispa, an astrophytum myriostigma quatricostatum behind it, and a clump of gasteria armstrongii by the buffalo skull trinket. You will notice this garden has four objects in it, but since three are rocks and one is the little skull, it works because they all aren’t the same thing. Rules can be broken successfully if you get the right combination going, and here I think it works.

This little garden has an astrophytum hybrid onzuka-can you tell I like astrophytums?-adronmischus festivus plover eggs, and a clump of agave Victoria compacta reginea hybrid in the front. Note the three little clay pots for the trinkets, and yes, a couple of rocks snuck in.

Of course, more or less than three plants can make a pleasing dish garden, but three is a good way to start. Tune in next week, and I will show you some ideas for breaking that rule of three.