Planning the Perennial Flower Garden
The first thing to consider when planning a perennial flower garden is what goal do you have in mind. Would you like to have flowers that bloom all season? Do you plan on mixing in annuals? Will the garden show from all four sides? After you figure all of these things out, then it is time to come up with a plan.
How to Choose the Right Location
Some flowers do well in full sun, while others like morning and late afternoon sun only. If you are in the south, partial shade may be better. There are exceptions to this rule. Decide if you want a sunny garden or a shade garden. Shade plants are harder to find, but there are hostas, ferns, etc that do well. Asiatic lilies do well as do most wild flowers that can be found in the woods. Be careful with the wild flowers though. Some of them will take over the entire garden. Violets are one of these.
Keep in mind which types of plants you'd like before choosing the spot. If you have a mostly sunny yard or mostly shade, then you may not have a choice. Just choose the flowers you'd like, keeping this in mind.
Planning the Shape
Plan before you dig. Using a garden hose to plan the shape of the garden can help. Flower gardens look best without straight lines.
A kidney shape is pleasing or if the garden is going to be against a fence or building, think about a curvy line. After you shape your garden with the hose, you can change it until you get the desired shape.
Plan the Arrangement of Plants
Get out a piece of paper and pencil before you begin planning which plants to purchase. Measure the garden and then draw a picture. Get out a plant catalog and look at the plants you'd like and check the heights and widths, colors, and bloom time. You'll find more information below to help you.
Flowers look best in uneven numbered groups. It is best to start with a grouping of 3, unless it is an extra large plant like a bleeding heart.
Fill in the paper before you start purchasing plants. If necessary you can move the plants later that don't work, but it helps to do it right the first time.
A Garden that Blooms All Summer
If you'd like to have flowers that bloom all season without using annual flowers, this can be a challenge. It is do-able. Don't start buying plants and plopping them in the garden without some thought first.
Tulips and daffodils bloom early as do most spring bulbs. Many of the wild flowers bloom in the early spring. Bleeding Hearts are an early bloomer.
Next irises will bloom. Soon asiatic lilies follow. Different asiatics are available that bloom at different times. The patio varieties bloom a little earlier than the others, so think about including those.
In midsummer there is a wide variety to choose from. Daylilies, coneflowers, rudebeckia, shasta daisies, oriental lilies and the list goes on. Late blooming daylilies and mums bloom in the fall. If you've kept your flowers deadheaded after they bloom, some of these will still be blooming in the fall.
Choose Plants by Heigth and Width
If your bed can be seen on all four sides, you'll need to plant the taller plants in the middle. If they are going to grow against a fence or building, plant the tall ones in the back. Next use the mid-size plants and then plant the small plants in the front.
Choosing By Plant Color
Would you prefer pastels or bright colored flowers? Look at a color wheel and choose the opposite color on the wheel. An example is purple and gold. This can make a real statement.
One of my neighbors used these two colors in sweeping gardens across her yard. We admired them every time we walked by.
White always looks nice with any bright color. A soft white would go well with pastel colors. Think about plants that have colorful leaves. I've purchased some coral bells with purple leaves this year and they make a nice splash of color before and after other flowers bloom.
You may want to have a theme garden. A family garden is a nice idea. Just choose plants with the names of your family members. Many varieties of flowers have the names of people. An example is the Becky Daisy that is a tall variety of Shasta Daisy that spreads well. Daylilies are available that are named with people's names.
A memorial garden is a nice way to remember someone special that has passed away. Plant all of the flowers the person loved or reminds you of them.
If you like to visit garden centers, stop at one on each vacation and bring back a plant to remember the good times you had.
Plant a garden in your favorite team's colors. These always look nice.
Using Raised Beds
By mounding up the dirt, you can raise the height of your garden. This has advantages. From the street your garden will look beautiful, because it will raise it to a higher level which will show it off more. A raised bed doesn't need as much bending to care for and you can use soil that is richer than that available in your area.
Of course a raised bed isn't necessary and it does take more work to create. The choice is up to you.
You'll enjoy your perennial flower bed for years to come. Because it has been carefully planned, it will look beautiful. Even if you are a beginner, the garden will add to your lawn and the birds and butterflies will enjoy it.