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How to Plan A Flower Garden

Oct 31, 2007
The desire for color in the garden is best satisfied by the liberal use of annuals, perennials and bulbs in variety. All three classes of plants have their place, because each has its value as to season of bloom, height or mass of color.

Succession of bloom from early spring to late fall is the goal of nearly every gardener. To achieve this consider first that very few hardy flowers have an individual blooming period of more than two or three weeks. Even annuals bloom only during the summer. Therefore, even for a small garden, one may have to select several dozen different kinds of plants to assure bloom from March to killing frost.

Your climate will determine how early in the spring and how late in the fall you can have flowers. An added factor is the location of your garden. Low spots in valleys often suffer more from frosts than those at slightly higher elevation, or on hillsides. This is usually due to lack of air drainage to carry the cold air away.

Planning the Flower Garden

The skillful gardener employs numerous devices to achieve a colorful flower bed or border. For example, by planting spring flowering bulbs between and beneath other flowers, each square foot of ground should give at least two crops of bloom.

Conversely, after spring bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, are through blooming, they may be interplanted with annuals for summer bloom. As summer blooming annuals go by in September, they can be followed by chrysanthemum clumps transplanted from another part of the garden. An orderly plan, made in advance, will simplify the task of keeping the show going from season to season.

The kinds of flowers you grow will be determined in a measure by the amount of sunlight available. This will vary from bed to bed, from one side of the house to the other. Most flowers will thrive in full sun but a few require shade. Others are shade tolerant, though doing better with a greater amount of sunlight. So it is possible to have flowers in the shade of trees, shrubs and buildings even where no direct sunlight reaches. Such plants as ferns, many wild flowers, and begonias have to be protected from the summer sun, for otherwise they may sun-scorch.

When making a plan, it is important to know how tall each kind of flower grows so as not to plant tall growing ones in front of low ones. The habit of growth should be known too, so as not to crowd massive clumps like peonies next to smaller, weaker growers such as peachleaf bellflowers; or sprawling coreopsis next to a low, tufted Japanese primrose. Very rank growers like the plume poppy and spreading Chinese lantern are really best kept out of beds with other flowers altogether.

Much has been said and written about planning color schemes in the garden. They are fascinating to think about, but often difficult to work out. Do not be disconcerted if the results are not as expected. Flowers have an irritating way of not blooming just when they should, so that carefully planned combinations may not materialize. Colors vary too. Blues in catalogs are not always your idea of blue. This goes for lavender, purple, red, pink, orange, yellow and so on through the rainbow. In any case, there is enough green foliage to subdue impossible color combinations.

Some people like to have their flowers in the front of the house where they can be seen. Others prefer to enjoy them in privacy. It is well to remember that in early spring and fall the weather may not be conducive to outdoor enjoyment.

Plant so that cold weather bloom may be enjoyed from the warmth and comfort of the home, using the windows as a means of access to the garden. Flowers can also be planted so as to be seen from the patio or picnic area. In every instance, a garden with a pleasing pattern or design and an adequate background is more satisfying than one without.

With some planning, you should be able to achieve a beautiful flower garden.
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