A Gardener’s Design Tips

As a gardener I believe in creativity and a personal style. I am not a fan of any boundaries. Garden design is an art form and should express the talent of the gardener or creator. But there are always the natural restrains and plants have different requirements. So knowledge and experience are valuable and necessary to succeed at least in a long-term. To arrange a garden bed is much like being a composer writing a symphony. There are some things to take into account when arranging a garden bed. In this post I share my design tips.

A Gardener's Design Tips | My Green Nook

Basic research

First of all we got to get some perspective. Do some basic research to find out what you are dealing with. The choice of plants will be the next step after you sorted out the following questions below:

  • The surroundings – look around what kind of houses or buildings and other gardens is present in the area, does the garden have a history, characteristic of the period the house and garden was built, nature which native plants grow here
  • The location – what preconditions do you have taken garden zone, microclimate, soil, sun/shade into account
  • The purpose – for what are you going to use the area, what is next to the garden bed, is it a place for the kids to play, a relax or a social area (like a dinner place), edible (food production), entrance/passing by
  • The flow – are there other constructions, natural lines or a beautiful view to take into consideration. From where will you see the garden bed
  • Maintenance level – how much work/how much time do you want to spend
  • Seasonal value – when will you use the garden, which time of the year will you see the garden bed most. For example a home garden, a summer-house and a school have different seasonal needs regarding bloom, fruit and winter decoration.

Choice of plants

As you may have noticed there are some descriptions of the plants that repeat in my gardening posts. Like solitaire, ground-cover and so on. This is one way to divide plants in which is very useful when you are about to arrange a flower bed. These characteristics tell use something about how the plants grow and is vital to the composition. You may use all or pick a few depending on the purpose and look you strive for. I will describe the most common characters and list some examples to give you a picture.

Choice of plants. Garden Design | My Green Nook

Weaver, Group builder, Ground-Covering, Pop-up. Photo Credits in the end of the post.

Solitaires: Are plants with a striking feature often tall and architectural. They draw the attention and speak with capitals. These are standing by themself or in smaller groups, often of three plants.
Yucca filamentosa – Adam´s needle
Some species of Miscanthus sinensis – ornamental grass
Topairy shaped plants or bonsai

Weavers: Are airy, delicate, cloud-like plants which gently weaves themself in among other plants. Holding together and softening the structure of the arrangement.
Thalictrum delavayi – Chinese meadow rue
Knautia macedonica – Macedonian scabious
Gaura lindheimeri – Indian feather

Group builders/colonizers: Are often growing in rosettes or bouquet-like shapes creating a group of flowers. Some may slowly spread by creating new groups and become colonizers. These often make the base/mass of the arrangement.
Echinacea purpurea – purple coneflower
Hemerocallis – day-lilies
Lavandula angustifolia – lavender

Ground-covering: Rugs or matt-like spreading plants preferably quite dense. Most are low, some are evergreen with no showy flowers which can have its advantages. These makes the boarders smoother and hold the arrangement together like a rug creating an island under the furniture.
Vinca minor – dwarf periwinkle
Asarum europaeum – European wild ginger
Galium odoratum – sweet-scented bedstraw
Some species of Geranium – cranesbill
Most species of Thymus (for example Thymus serpyllum) – thyme

Pop-up plants: Often biennial or plants moderately spread by seed. These are popping up here and there making the arrangement dynamic and shifting over time.
Verbascum thapsus – great mullein
Angelica gigas – purple parsnip

This is one way to start working on a plan for a garden bed. Next time you look for plants in literature, at a nursery or garden center keep this in mind. See if you can find plants from each group.

Which tools and guidelines do you use when designing your garden or arranging a flower bed?

This post was previously published in two parts during the A-Z Challenge read the originals in K as in Kolkwitzia and Y as in Yucca. Curious about more plants? Check out the challenge by clicking the link above.

Happy Gardening!

Floral Border


© The photos are licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0. Photo credits as follows:

Knautia macedonicaStefano
Echinacea purpurea – free
Thymus serpyllumKingsbrae Garden
Angelica gigasChris Kreussling

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Y as in Yucca

Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Asparagaceae

Genus: Yucca

Species: Yucca filamentosa

Common names: spoonleaf yucca, filament yucca, Adam’s needle Swedish name: fiberpalmlilja

Yucca is a genus of 40-50 species of perennial shrubs and trees native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. They grow in rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and produce large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. Some species have stems (tree-form) on which the old dry leaves are collected to protect it from the heat and water loss. They frequently store water in their thick roots. The channeled leaves of a yucca direct dew and rainfall water to their roots. Yuccas are among the first plants re-colonizing after wildfires. They have a very specialized, mutualistic pollination system, being pollinated by yucca moths (family Prodoxidae).

Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Popular as architectural plants providing a dramatic accent to landscape design. Many species also bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems and more rarely roots. Yucca filamentosa is native to the southeastern US. And is one species I know to be grown outdoors as a perennial in the southern parts of Sweden.

Yucca filamentosa - Adam´s needle. Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Yucca filamentosa – Adam´s needle. Photo: Carl Lewis ©

Description: Yucca filamentosa is a usually stemless evergreen shrub with blue-green, elongated leaves with thread-like filaments along the leaf margins. The nodding bell-shaped creamy white flowers grow on up to 3 meter tall stems in long terminal panicles. They bloom in summer. It creates suckers which sustain the growth. Y. filamentosa is widely cultivated in mild temperate and subtropical climates as a broad-leaved evergreen plant. Some cultivated varieties are ‘Bright Edge’, ‘Ivory Tower’ and ‘Color Guard’. They attract butterflies.

How to grow: Yucca filamentosa is fully hardy, though in cultivation it benefits from a sheltered position away from winter winds and moist. It thrives in well-drained, dry and warm sandy soils in full sun. But it tolerates partial shade. It is suitable as a solitaire in the rock or gravel garden or in mixed boarders surrounded with lower plants. It can also be grown in container but then it needs winter storage in shelter from frost. The leaf rosettes wither after the bloom and make room for the suckers. Remove spent flowering stems. Overall it needs low maintenance. Propagation by seed or rooted suckers.

Garden design part II – Choice of Plants

As you may have noticed there are some descriptions of the plants that repeat in my posts. Like solitaire, ground-cover and so on. This is one way to divide plants in when you are about to arrange a flower bed. These characteristics tell use something about how the plants grow and is vital to the composition. You may use several groups or pick a few depending on the purpose and look you strive for.

Garden Design part II. Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Weaver, Group Builder, Ground-Covering, Pop-Up.
Photo credits in the end of the post ©

Solitaires:

Are plants with a striking feature often tall and architectural. They draw the attention and speak with capitals. They are standing by themself or in smaller groups, often of three plants.

  • Yucca filamentosa – Adam´s needle
  • Some species of Miscanthus sinensis – Ornamental grass
  • Topairy shaped plants or Bonsai

Weavers:

Are airy, delicate, cloud-like plants which gently weaves themself in among other plants. Holding together and softening the structure of the garden bed.

  • Thalictrum delavayi – Chinese meadow rue
  • Knautia macedonica – Macedonian Scabious
  • Gaura lindheimeri – Indian Feather

Group builders/colonizers:

Are often growing in rosettes or bouquet-like shapes holding together as a group. Some may slowly spread by creating new groups and become colonizers.

  • Echinacea purpurea – purple coneflower
  • Hemerocallisday-lilies
  • Lavandula angustifolia – lavender

Ground-covering:

Rugs or matt-like spreading plants preferably quite dense. Most are low, some are evergreen with no showy flowers which can have its advantages.

  • Vinca minordwarf periwinkle
  • Asarum europaeum – European wild ginger
  • Galium odoratum – ssweet-scented bedstraw
  • Some species of Geranium – cranesbill
  • Most species of Thymus – thyme (for example Thymus serpyllum)

Pop-up plants:

Often biennial or plants moderately spread by seed popping up here and there making the garden bed dynamic and shifting over time.

  • Verbascum thapsus – great mullein
  • Angelica gigas – purple parsnip

Did you miss Garden design part I? No worries, here it comes:
How to arrange a flower bed

Garden Relax. Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Do not forget to relax and enjoy your garden.


© The photos are licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0. Photo credits as follows:

K as in Kolkwitzia

K as in Kolkwitzia. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Caprifoliaceae

Genus: Kolkwitzia

Species: Kolkwitzia amabilis

Common names: beauty bush Swedish name: paradisbuske

 

The Kolkwitzia genus contains just one shrub species from one area in China. It is closely related to Weigela. The Latin amabilis means “lovely”. It is very rare and threatened in the wild. Kolkwitzia amabilis has an horticultural value and is popular to use in gardens. While in blossom it really deserves its common name beauty bush.

K as in Kolkwitzia. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Kolkwitzia amabilis. Photo: Martin Nikolaj Christensen ©

Description: Kolkwitzia amabilis is wide and tall deciduous shrub, with light brown flaky bark and graceful arching branches. It is usually as wide as it is tall. The plant blooms in late spring-summer. The bell-shaped flowers are light to dark pink with a yellow throat. They are growing in pairs, as with all Caprifoliaceae. The flowers form showy, numerous sprays giving the shrub a magnificent blossom. Dark-green foliage adds appeal when not in bloom. Its fruit is a hairy, ovoid capsule almost looking like a grilled chicken. The shrub has a nice fruity scent. There is a hybrid of Kolkwitzia amabilis named ‘Pink Cloud’. A variety with compact and lower growth but still as beautiful.

How to grow: It prefers a fertile, well-drained soil. Grows best in sun to half shade. Propagation is by cuttings. It needs to be pruned to avoid a scrappy look. Remove damaged, dead and weak wood by cutting the twig to the ground to encourage new growth and a healthy appearance. Once in a while the shrub needs a renewal. Pick out a few thick, old twigs and cut them to the ground to get a more airy and loose base. Overall it requires low maintenance.

Garden design part I – how to arrange a flower bed

I believe in creativity and a personal style. I am not a great fan of any boundaries. Garden design is an art form and should express the talent of the gardener or creator. But there are always the natural restrains and plants have different requirements. So knowledge and experience is a great access and necessary to succeed at least in a long-term. To create a garden bed is much like being a composer writing a symphony. There are some things to take into account when arranging a garden bed:

  1. The surroundings – look around what kind of houses or buildings and other gardens is present in the area, does the garden have a history, characteristic of the period the house and garden was built
  2. The location – what preconditions do you have taken garden zone, microclimate, soil, sun/shade into account
  3. The purpose – for what are you going to use the area, next to the garden bed, playground, relax, social (like a dinner place), edible (food production), entrance/passing by
  4. The flow – are there other constructions, natural lines or a beautiful view to take into consideration. From where will you see the garden bed
  5. Maintenance level – how much work/how much time do you want to spend
  6. Seasonal value – when will you use the garden, which time of the year will you see the garden bed most. For example a home garden, a summer-house and a school have different seasonal needs regarding bloom, fruit and winter decoration.

I will get back to the choice of plants later. Which will be the next step after you sorted out the questions above.

 


© The photo is licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0