Ten tips to help create the garden of your dreams

10 tips to helps gardeners struggling with bed design, color, placement and variety of plant material.

The gardening season is well under way.  Flower beds are taking shape and vegetable gardens are sprouting with potential bounty for the fall.  But many gardeners struggle with bed design, color, placement and variety of plant material.

Follow along as I give you ten tips on developing the garden of your dreams.

Defining a space is at the top of the list.   A space should enhance quality of life, have a pleasing function, improve the neighborhood and increase resale values of the property.  It is important to develop an area to blend into its surroundings.  If there is a woodland space around you, blend the choices for the bed using similar or native plants providing a seamless flow towards the adjoining area.

Color, form and texture are also important items on the list.  Everyone has their personal preference for what pleases the eye.

There are two basic color combinations.  Harmonious colors next to each other on the color wheel (red, orange, yellow) provide a pleasing flow for the eye to follow.  Contrasting combinations, colors opposite each other (red/green, yellow/purple) provides a more jarring effect.

Take care to favor one color, and use the other as an accent or focal point reducing any jarring effect.  Color is perhaps the most prominent factor in garden design and often the first one considered.

Circular, pyramidal, spreading or weeping forms contrast or harmonize your garden scene.  Add texture such as fine feathery foliage, broad shiny leafed plantings or sharp rough texture to the mix to set the emotion or mood for the garden.

Repetition of colors and shapes form a sense of connection, creates order thus causing calm.  This can be achieved in the plantings (a bank of grasses), in hardscape (rock or paver placement) or furniture placement (outdoor seating arranged for maximum effect).  Be sure to develop contrast whether in the colors, shapes or hardscapes (combining flagstone with wispy sedge grass or woolly thyme).  Often contrast happens accidentally with the introduction of a plant and pot into an existing scheme. Just give it a try; you may be surprised what works.

Focal points draw the eye, lead you around the garden and are usually man made.  Anything offering interest in size, color and shape make excellent focal points.  Pick something you love, it could be a brightly colored bench, fancy pot or some form of statuary.  It is not necessary to create a garden with a focal point but it should be considered in the design process.

Let shapes do their job in the garden.  Curved beds and soft, sauntering circles hold great appeal.  Straight lines can be harsh and hard.

The shape of the garden itself as well as the shapes of the plants lend to creating an interesting picture.

Does a plant work in a particular spot? If a plant does not perform or does not fit the landscape remove, replace or repurpose it.  Never feel you have to keep a plant if it does not work.

Finally and the most important question to ask yourself, does my design please me? That pleasure can come from the colors, shapes and sizes or textures of the plants.  Just take a seat and enjoy.

Betty Drover operates a local garden business and shares this space with business partner Patty Siddall every other Friday. Contact: 250-364-1005

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