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Because trial and error can be frustrating and expensive, the best ways to discover whether a plant will grow in your garden is to talk with fellow gardeners, read gardening books, and consult plant catalogues. The chart on pages 22 and 23 lists many good garden plants and, along with flower color, height, and bloom time, indicates their sun and soil requirements. If your new garden will be in the shade and you’re at a loss for what to grow, we refer you to the list of plants on page 32 that thrive with little or no direct sun. Most of the plants are available in either the spring or the fall from White Flower Farm.

6. From the list of suitable plants, make selections according to the basic principles of flower garden design. A single flowering plant can be very beautiful. A grouping of several specimens of the same plant can be impressive. Combining groups of different plants so that each complements the others is the art gardeners aspire to. Here are a few principles of organization that many gardeners have adopted because they work so well. Tall plants at the back, low-growers up front. A plant has to be seen to be appreciated, so it makes sense in most borders to put the shortest plants along the edge, long-legged plants at the back, and the rest in between, creating a gradual slope from, for example, Dianthus in front to Coreopsis, Lilium, Phlox, and finally tall ornamental Grasses at the rear. “Drifts” make a statement. There is a tendency among new gardeners to fill a garden with individual specimens. The result is a collection of plants that becomes a confused jumble when seen from a distance. Apart from 8

shrubs and a few large perennials, such as Aruncus dioicus (Goatsbeard) and ornamental Grasses, most plants put on a better show when planted in numbers of three or more in irregular groupings called “drifts.” A drift is generally wider than it is deep, and the plants that comprise it are typically arranged in a staggered pattern resembling an upside-down “W,” which provides a natural, flowing look. Succeeding drifts are added in overlapping layers to help conceal the joints between them. Planting in drifts means fewer varieties of plants in your border, but those that are represented have much greater impact than single specimens. A few tips on using color. Color preference is very personal. Combinations of color that cause one person to sigh with delight may cause another to wince. So, while entire books have been written on color theory and why some colors “work” together and others don’t, it makes sense to begin by choosing the colors you like and experimenting to arrive at combinations that please you. Don’t be surprised if your taste evolves with time. Changing color preference is one of the many reasons gardening sustains a lifetime of interest.

A PERENNIAL LINE-UP BY HEIGHT For a good view of all of the plants in your garden, arrange them by height— tallest at the back, shortest up front.

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HowtoDesignYourGarden  

White Flower Farm p l a n t s m e n s i n c e 1 9 5 0 $2.00 whiteflowerfarm.com © 2008 White Flower Farm, Litchfield, Connecticut 06759-0050...

HowtoDesignYourGarden  

White Flower Farm p l a n t s m e n s i n c e 1 9 5 0 $2.00 whiteflowerfarm.com © 2008 White Flower Farm, Litchfield, Connecticut 06759-0050...

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