Planning the planting scheme

To create a good planting scheme, you have to consider not only the 3D effects, but also scale, color, and changes over time. Orchestrating these different elements takes careful planning, but a border need not necessarily he elaborate or particularly time-consuming in order to be effective.

Any planting scheme needs a . variety of material in order to look good. Ideally, you should grow plants with a range of heights, forms, and foliage types. Trees, with their single stems and canopies of foliage above, will help to create areas of shade and add privacy; they also provide a much-needed habitat forwildlile, but remember that the roots run to the extent of the canopy and large trees should never be planted close to house walls. Some shrubs grow as high as 20 ft., while low-growing, spreading varieties act like groundcover. Choosing a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs will help to ensure that the garden has all-season appeal, and it is always worth checking any preferred plants to see if they look good out of season—for example,
do they have attractively colored bark, fall foliage, or perhaps scented winter flowers?

Planting style

The style of planting you choose will be determined not only by the space available, but also by the time you have to tend the garden. Good, low-maintenance plants include shrub borders, ground-cover, and foliage perennials such

For those with more time to spare, a traditional herbaceous perennial border is a great delight and will stretch your talents as a designer as you strive to orchestrate a display of appropriately si/ec! plants in your chosen colors as the seasons unfold. Not only do you need an artist’s eye to plan the color scheme, you also need to be able to work out the eventual height and spread of each plant, so that the border rises in height toward the back, ensuring that each plant is seen in all its glory. More recent developments in design have embraced the use of grasses in herbaceous borders. Proponents of these mixed plantings, like Beth Chatto and Piet Oudolf, have fostered an interest in a much more relaxed style, which involves less or no staking and allows nature a freer hand. This kind of planting lends to concentrate on large blocks of color in tonal shades, and the plants are chosen lor their similarity in height and form, creating a gentle sweep of color across the garden.

No planting scheme will work well unless you have chosen the right plants. Separate areas of the garden have different soil conditions and varying levels of light. A dry, sunny border would require a very different mixture of plants from a damp, shady area; similarly, a border on alkaline soil needs a completely different type of plants to one on acidic soil.

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