You are stocking a garden from scratch, you need to plan for (and probably purchase) the largest elements first. Having decidedwhat these key elements will be, you then need to go about selecting them. Vour best source for large plants is a reputable nursery, where the stock has been raised by the owners. Garden centers operate by buying in stock from growers, but the quality may vary considerably, depending on the supplier. Having said that, a good garden center with a high turnover ol stock is probably a safer option than a nursery which, lor one reason or another, has begun to run down.Any plant you buy must be in good condition; the bigger the plant, the more expensive, so it is important not to waste monn on diseased or damaged trees or large shrubs. In addition to the health and vigor of the plant, it needs to have formed a good balanced shape, ideally with some formative training in its first seasons of growth. Strong, sturdy, and bushy-are generally good; weak and spindly arc generally bad! But the plant’s natural habit will, to some extent, govern its form. Before you buy, check out the illustrated section of any good plant reference guide and establish what the plant you are planning to buy is supposed to look like. It is alwaysSeedlings When choosing young plants, make sure they are healthy; i/not, they will fail to thrive. best to plant in the cooler seasons of the year, when there is less risk of the plant’s drying out. If you plant in fall, it gives a full season for the plant to establish a good root system before the burst of Active new growth in spring.It is always a good idea to plant herbaceous perennials in “roups, rather than in ones or twos, so although you may wish to purchase a vide range of different plants, it is far better to limit the choices and buy several of one kind. Not only will these then form a major feature, but theeffect on the garden will be more harmonious and balanced. Opt for odd numbers of plants, as this makes it far easier to create an attractive group.