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How to Design A Perfect Flower Garden

Now is the time of year to make your garden a place where you can play, relax, and entertain your family and friends. If your garden could do with a face-lift, it is best to to consider the space holistically by taking into consideration how you want to use your garden to how much time you want to spend working on it.

By creating a magical space, doesn’t mean you have to be born with green fingers. By thinking ahead and a little thought and creativity your garden will be a become a true representation of what you desire it to be.

Get an Idea

With clever planting and practical design features, your garden can help add to the look of your home as well as being a visual retreat and a sanctuary of relaxation. Even with limited outdoor space and minimal gardening expertise you can still transform your patio or garden into a relaxing garden with a few simple design tricks.

Tips to consider when planning your garden:

  • Think about what types of flowers you would like to grow and make a list
  • Focus on flowers that have longer stems. These make better candidates when cutting and arranging
  • Include flowers that bloom in spring, midsummer and late summer to keep your garden looking colorful all year round
  • Research how much space each plant needs; some of your favorites may require only eight to ten inches
  • Be realistic in your planning – start small, it is better to succeed just a little than it is to fail massively

Create a Focal Point

Focal points allow your eyes to focus on one spot when you look at the garden, bringing order to your planting scheme. Having a focal point gives a sense of flow, without it your garden is rarely taken in and studied for its beauty.

So what constitutes as a focal point?

We have put together a selection of ideas for you to consider when creating a focal point:

  • An unusual specimen, for example Red twig dogwood. Growing a Red twig dogwood is a great way to add spectacular colour to your garden.
  • A large, architectural plant - Cimicifuga racemose
  • A group of plants – a cluster of Astilbe, bleeding hearts and ferns. This selection of plants is a perennial with beautiful, showy flowers atop glossy, fern–like foliage.
  • A vibrant colour - Orange canna, are perennials that produce bold leaves and flamboyant flowers in shades of red, orange, yellows and pinks.
  • A single what plant – Hellebore, are very elegant flowers, perfect for brightening up shady areas during late winter and early spring.
  • Large borders – having borders within your garden, can create a pathway through the center of your garden and accentuate any garden large or small.
  • A dwarf shrub or tree – Shrubs or trees can give your garden a structural backbone. Dwarf conifers can serve as versatile plants regardless of how much space you have.

Choose your Colours

The ‘mood’ of your garden is distinguished by the colour of plants in your garden as well as your perception of space.

Hot colours

Bold reds, yellows, orange and bright pinks – grab your attention and make the flowers look closer than they actually are. This method is used to make a big garden look intimate. Bright coloured flowers work best in a sunny garden as they tend to be sun-lovers.

Cool colours

From blue, purple and pale pink are classed as calming and restful. They blur into the background, which can be used to help a small space feel bigger. But that’s not to say you have to opt for one or the other. Many gardens have a sunny bed that could become a hot border and a shadier area for a cool border, giving you the best of both worlds.

Using a colour wheel

Using a flower colour wheel is similar to an artist’s colour wheel. It sets the mood of a bed/border. But remember it’s not just flowers that are colourful – leaves and stems are too. If you choose a shade you like on the colour wheel, you will find harmonious colours on either side of it. If you want to liven it up, the colour exactly opposite on the wheel will contrast with your chosen shade. Once you have decided on your colour scheme all you have to do is choose your plants, and that is when the fun really starts!

Pick a Place

Most flowers need about six hours of sunlight a day. Spend a day in your chosen spot and watch how the sun moves across the space…it might receive more sun than you think. The best way to pick your flowers is to check the plant tags or ask one of our staff to find out how much sun a plant requires.

Making Shapes

Shapes can be used throughout the garden to create harmony and contrast. For example, a neatly clipped box in the shape of a dome would contrast with the hard architectural shape of an agave, or work harmoniously with a soft looking euphorbia.

preparation is Key

If you’re making a new bed in an existing lawn, first remove any turf grass and roots. Then enrich the growing area by working a layer of four to six inches of organic material for example; compost, chopped leaves, peat moss into the top eight to ten inches of soil with a spading fork. If your ground is very sandy, swampy, or rocky or high in clay content, do yourself a favor and consider making raised beds with a simple kit and filling them with amended soil purchased in bulk. This saves you the daunting, near-impossible task of trying to turn bad soil into good.

To Dig or Not to Dig

Digging loosens the soil so roots can penetrate more easily. But please keep in mind, if the soil is too wet or too dry it can ruin its structure. By digging, it loosens the soil which helps the roots to penetrate more easily. But bare in mind, if the soil is too wet or too dry it can ruin the soil structure. The ideal time to dig is when the soil is moist enough to form a loose ball in your hand, but dry dry enough to fall apart when it is dropped.

Method is in the digging:

  • Use a spade or spading fork to gently turn the top 8 to 12 inches of soil
  • In beds of annual flowers, turn the soil only once a year in the spring before you plant

Double-digging involves:

  • removing the top 8-12 inches of soil (usually from one small area at a time)
  • loosening and working organic matter into the newly exposed 8- to 12-inch layer of soil
  • replacing the top layer
  • then working organic matter into the top layer

Preparing Perennial flowers

Perennial flowers return year after year, blooming on their own. The traditional method of preparing a bed for perennial flowers is to double dig.

Pick Your Plants

The best garden designs include a variety of short-term annuals, long living perennials, ornamental grasses, seasonal bulbs, vines, and blooms. Take a little time to research what is available, but try to stick mainly with native species that will thrive in the natural conditions surrounding your property. Native plants will be a lot less work for you if you lead a busy life and they are more environmently friendly, because they don’t require as much watering.

Here’s a partial list of some of the plants to consider for your garden layout.

Annuals - Plants that perform their entire life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season. All roots, stems and leaves of the plant die annually. Only the seed lays domant and bridges the gap between one generation and the next.

  • Ageratum (floss flower)
  • Cleome (spider flower)
  • Cosmos
  • Dianthus
  • Gomphrena (globe amaranth)
  • Gypsophila (baby’s breath)
  • Marigold
  • Nicotiana (flowering tobacco)
  • Nigella damascena (love in a mist)
  • Pansy
  • Phlox
  • Snapdragon
  • Sunflower
  • Sweet pea
  • Verbena

Perennials plants – are very persistant plants that you can rely on to grow through many seasons. Generally, the top portion of the plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system. Many perennial plants do keep their leaves year round and offer attractive borders and groundcover.

  • Achillea (yarrow)
  • Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle)
  • Aster
  • Carnation
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coral bells
  • Delphinium
  • Dianthus (pinks)
  • Echinacea (purple coneflower)
  • Heuchera (coral bells)
  • Lavender
Posted by Charlie Groves

Charlie is the manager at Groves Nurseries.  He is the 6th generation of C.W. Groves to run the garden centre. 

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