Many times we buy our plants on impulse then find there is nowhere in the garden that really suits them. So before buying plants for your garden bed carefully examine your garden bed to see how much sun and shade it gets (take a full day to do this…morning sun, mid-day sun, afternoon sun and in the summer late afternoon/early evening sun), also check to see whether the soil is well drained or waterlogged and whether your area is sheltered or windswept. Once you have determined this you’ll then be ready to go and buy the best plants for your garden; shade-loving plants for the sheltered areas (some shade plants are partial sun tolerant), sun-lovers for the warm spots, drought-resistant plants for the parched areas which may be either sunny or shaded, and swamp plants for the poorly-drained parts. Just remember that when the label says ‘Full Sun’ or ‘Full Shade’ or anything else all this means, is that the plant will most likely thrive in those conditions…for example if the label says full sun and you plant it in partial sun/shade, the plant will grow, just not to its full capacity each year.
There is also the soil acid or alkiline levels for the plant. You can test your soil first, to determine the pH level of your soil and what kind of nutrients you need to add, if any. Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic, but there are some that must have alkaline soil to grow. You can alter the soil’s pH level, but it’s much easier to simply plant for the soil you have. Some ‘Green’ remedies for this would be pine needles mixed in the soil will eventually turn the soil acidic, while mushroom manure will turn it akaline.
Something else to think about is will you plant in groups or singly? If you buy ‘one of everything’ your garden may seem rather spotty. Most things that are planted singularly are for specimens. Group plantings are organized, harmonious and you can vary the color for interest. Just remember, and this is very important,when you buy your plants they will most likely be small and you will have the temptation to plant them close together. Please, please, please, DON’T! The plants will grow and fill in the spaces. I have seen so many times people do this because of impatience and wanting immediate coverage only to end up removing some of the plants later because of overcrowding.
Before planting your purchase, place your plants around the garden bed in their pots to see how they will look. Re-arrange them until you are satisfied. Grouping plants in sets of threes or fives usually looks better than planting in groups of even numbers. But it is totally up to your liking, but more often than not, odd numbers is the way to go.Be sure that you have an interesting combination of colors and textures of plants. This means a variety of plants such as Broadleaf Evergreens (Boxwood, Rhododendrons, Holly etc.), Deciduous (plants that loose their leafs in the fall/winter), Conifers (Cedars, Threadleaf Cypress, Pine etc.) Tall plants should go to the back, or the centre if your garden will be viewed equally from all sides. Try to keep your plants away from larger trees. The roots of larger trees are pretty competitive and will steal all the nutrients and moisture meant for your flowers or shrubs.
The right color scheme is one way to maintain the harmony in your garden. Think of the color of the flowers when they are in bloom. Some colors may clash with others, but can still be planted close to one another if they have a different blooming season. Foliage color is also important. Some plants leaves will darken in the sun but will stay green in the shade, other plants will need the sun to enhance their proper colouring. Many flower plants have silver, grey or purplish foliage that is just as attractive as the flower. This means that they are still attractive well past the blooming season and so have added value.
So I will leave you now with this information to start your planning of your soon to be beautiful, envy of the neighbourhood garden. 🙂