How to Paint a Masterpiece in The Garden, Part Two.
December 4, 2009
Allan in Garden Design, Landscaping, garden design, garden planning

Photo courtesy of Judy Glattstein, BelleWood Gardens. Click on the image to visit her site.Ten aspects of garden planning are introduced in this, the second of three chapters on designing a garden that is not a hodge podge. With a background established and a color scheme chosen, the gardener now needs to decide where plants will be placed in order to create a beautiful garden.

Rhythm: Plant several of the same perennials through out the garden. This will create a pattern that leads the eye through the flower beds and at the same time pulls the composition together. When planting multiples of any one perennial or any one color, it is best to work in odd numbers. Use three or five of the same plant or color and avoid planting even numbers of anything. The above photo of Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia demonstrates how the pink flowers tie the composition together by rhythmic repetition.


Height: Tall perennials work best in the back of the border, short plants show best in the front and medium height plants do well in the middle.  Do not deviate from this plan until the garden is complete. On the other hand, if one is designing an island garden, plant tall flowers in the center, short flowers at the perimeter and medium height plants in-between.

Bulbs: Plant bulbs in groups of 5 or more of the same kind. If assorted bulbs are preferred, plant them in drifts of 7, 9 or 13.

Borders: Some garden beds are enormously enhanced when they are trimmed at the edges with short perennials planted in rhythmic repetition. The more disciplined the edging perennials, the more elegant and controlled the garden will appear.


Flowering Period: The assortment of perennials planted in the garden should ensure flowers all season long. This is where the hard word begins. Researching bloom time is more difficult than digging planting holes.

Neatness: Whenever possible, opt for neat easy-care plants. Stake flowers that tend to flop over. Cut down spent blooms on a regular basis.

Variety: Don’t restrict the garden to flowers only. Select some plants for the texture of their foliage. Include new varieties of miniature ornamental shrubs and ornamental grasses. Consider easy-care and Hardy roses.

High Impact Plants: Nothing helps more to create a powerful garden display better than a tall, dramatic, high-impact plant. See posting of November 25, 2009 for more information.

Trick the Eye: Plant disciplined perennials and miniature shrubs up close to living spaces such as patios, pools, decks and windows. This gives structure to the immediate view of the garden. Place larger, floppier and otherwise less disciplined plants farther away. The placement of plants should be inversely proportionate to their scragliness. The messier they are, the farther away they should be planted.

Always Edit: Avoid plants that look cute up close but mediocre when planted. Don't get too attached to any plant. If it does nothing to enhance the garden, get rid of it. All plants need to be team players. The garden in its entirety has to be more beautiful than any one plant.

Click here to continue reading Part Three that deals with gardening on a budget. Yes, it can be done!

Click here to read Part One

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/).
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