Thanks to the subscribers who said our Garden Design webinar was helpful but what do we have that’s quicker advice.
We’ll take that as both “Hit” and “Miss.”
Most garden centers do 50% of their yearly sales in just 6 weeks in spring. It’s not the only time to plant and not even the best time to put perennials and woody plants in the ground (fall wins that award). Yet the plants fly out the garden center doors.
Because gardeners buy in spring like sharks in a feeding frenzy.
It’s fun to be part of the swirling activity and let impulse rule your plant selection but when it comes to permanent plants – trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcover – you’ll save time and money if you plant the right plant rather than the one that caught your eye. The landscape will be more attractive, too, if there is a long sequence of bloom rather than a synchrony that forever recaptures the day you shopped.
We take a list to the garden center, plant names and numbers. It would be great if you could do that but if you go there for ideas because plant names don’t come to you, try this:
Focus for a moment on the place you plant to plant new. Look at it from the angle you will most often view it: From the kitchen window, from the driveway as you come and go, wherever.
Notice what the background will be for anything planted there. A fence, the open lawn, a group of trees, the neighbor’s house? If a plant will be the background, clip a leaf from that plant. If the background is a structure or wall or lawn, take a photo of that feature.
Next, from your main viewing angle look at the spot to be planted. Shift your eyes slightly right, then left to identify what might flank and accompany the new planting. Take photos or foliage clippings.
Put your phone in your pocket and the leaves in a bag but don’t head for the garden center yet. Consider what time of year the surroundings show color. Early spring to the right, fall color in the background? Then maybe something with high summer bloom and a complementary fall leaf color would work best.
Now go to the garden center. Ask the staff or use the in-store guides (garden centers spend so much time preparing them only to see them mostly ignored) to identify some things that will be in color at the right time. Check the plant tag for a match to your site’s light and soil. If it’s likely to grow well in that spot, take out your photos and leaves to consider the combination. Pay special attention to the way the greenery goes together, or doesn’t. We bet you’ll come up with some winners.
Textural contrast is always a winner. The visual pattern of light and dark on a plant surface is its texture. Large areas of light and dark? Coarse texture. Tiny divisions? Fine. So large leaves near small is pleasant to see and big bold flowers are better when accompanied by massed, tiny flowers.
Foliage color is the most durable plant characteristic. Green leaves near gold, blue-green near maroon… such combos can be as attractive as floral partners but with a longer lasting show.