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In Barb's Garden

...planning your garden
by Barb Foster
by Barb Foster


Inspired to nuture, Barb Foster took up gardening over a decade ago. She has a particular passion for this areas hardy perennials.

Barb collects her own seeds, grows seedlings in a greenhouse and has 500 sq ft of growing beds plus numerous perennial flower beds in her Zone 1b garden in Chetwynd, B.C.

Barb writes weekly for the Chetwynd Echo.

August 22, 2004

Do you long for a flower garden of your own? You can never go wrong, if your garden gives you pleasure. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Looking at planning and planting your garden as an experiment, you can let yourself go, and create your own work of art in living colour. Installing your landscape design, one step, or bed, or section of a border at a time. Organize your garden bed planting plans on graph paper first.

Plants are much easier to move on paper. Mark out your garden bed to scale, in a 12 inch grid. Mark in immovable objects, and planned for pathways, rock walls, etc. Place the location for your plants on the paper leaving 12 inches from the edges of rocks, walls, shrubs, etc. Locate low growing plants to the front and taller plants to the back of border gardens. In island gardens, the beds should be twice as wide as the tallest plants, which would be placed in the center of the bed.

Get to know the plants you are choosing, as well as you can. Your over all landscape design should tell you height and colour requirements. Search out plants that fulfill your need, as to hardiness zone, blooming time, density, height, soil type, light, and moisture.

Understand the seasonal behaviour of your plants. Bleeding heart for example, sometimes go dormant and appear to die after their spring bloom, but they will be back again next spring.

You can create a living mulch by placing your plants 8" to 12" apart, with every fourth plant being a ground cover type of plant. As the ground cover spreads over the garden, it conserves water and prevents weed seed germination, by blocking out light from the soil surface. You can plant spring blooming bulbs beneath the ground cover plants, and within 10 inches of larger plants. While you are planning your gardens, try to combine plants with similar requirements of light, soil type, and water. Plant in groupings, or drifts. Repeat the groupings in other areas of the garden to create flow and harmony. Try not to plant in straight rows, and unless it is to be an accent or center piece, don't use single plant specimens. Instead plant groups of odd numbers, three, five, or seven of the same plant. Use foil (feathery foliage) to blend colours. Keep in mind the period of bloom for each type of plant, try to create a continual flow of colour from spring to fall.

Place stakes in the ground to correspond to the grid on the graph paper. Some plants, such as peonies and roses, and all trees and shrubs, need deeper planting holes or trenches within the garden. Dig these before planting starts. If the ground is dry, fill the planting holes with water several times. If you have potted plants, they can be set out in their assigned places, viewed and re-arranged, before actually planting them. Plant larger plants first; then spring blooming bulbs, then the smaller plants. Start on one side, and work across the garden so that you don't have to walk over planted areas.

Most of all enjoy your garden.



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