One big thing you will notice about the plantings in our education garden is that we pack a LOT into the beds. It goes against what typical recommendations are for spacing plants. The reason we do this is that plants are happy being closer together. This one small planter has over 15 plants in it and it is thriving! It is not the prettiest display, however the plants are doing so well and are flourishing a lot more than if we had planted them separately, or farther apart in a garden bed.
If you look closely at the natural forest systems and in the wild, on the sides of the roads, etc. you don't see neat plantings, but chaos! And there are never monoculture crops! They are all growing very closely together and intertwining, providing shade, nutrients and also protection from predators. They are HAPPY! This planter display I have on our front table sort of represents the layers of every forest system. While all layers are not represented, the kale is like the overstory tree layer, and the smaller herbs are the understory or shrub layers, and the low creeping thyme is the ground cover layer. It's a really neat mini visual display for people to see.