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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Down In Front! Planning a Flower Bed Tootsie Tip #3.


Hellooooooo! and WELCOME to Tootsie Tip #3!

I hope you guys are ready to get your Tootsie Tip of the day! This is a good one....and one that I have had several requests to write.

Now that we are seeing signs of life in the greenhouse, it is time to start making plans for what we will do with all the little plants, where we will put them and how they will be arranged!


Yea, I know. There is three feet of snow, layers of ice and no end in sight of the nasty ugly cold weather here. How the heck am I going to teach you about gardening when I could be building an igloo? Easy.

Come with me.

First I want to tell you a little story.

When we first moved into this house, I had a HUGE chalkboard that I had purchased for the kids at a garage sale. I intended to hang it on the fence for them to color on while they were playing in the yard over the warmer months. It was fall already so I had it stored in the garage for the winter. All winter long I would go out to the garage and "map" my future yard plans on this big board. When we moved here there were no flower beds...just grass and an enormous vegetable garden...(which my dog pooped all over in the veggies..but that's a whole other story...hee hee)

I had a wonderfully detailed diagram of all the things I would be doing and building and getting done. It was fabulous, loaded with details...but two things were wrong...One...the snoopy woman next door thought I was some sort of mental patient for spending so much time playing with my kid's chalkboard (she never bothered to ask what I was doing when she was spying on me through the garage window). The second....My kids erased it!

My son was 4 at that time, and thought he would take a quick turn one day...and it was GONE!!!!

yea....I cried. (they "chalked" it up to hormones- I was 8 months pregnant)

But I learned two curtains for the garage could NOT wait..and second...use pen and paper!

Now back to the lesson.

First of all you need to grab a couple of things.

1. pen ( or pencil) and paper (grid paper helps)

2. crayons

3. ruler

4. a few photos of your last year gardens if possible

5. an idea or list of what type of flowers you would like to use.2


Draw yourself a "map" of your yard to scale....I include sidewalks and structures, existing trees etc.

Keep in mind that I do not have a lot of perennial plants in my gardens and therefore this post does not address much of that. You can use perennials instead of annuals, but you will need to plan ahead for their mature size of the future. Annuals are much smaller, and will not mind being a little crowded.

Draw any of the existing perennial plants into the sketch before you begin to add to the map.

Planning for a flower bed that is up against a wall is much like planning seating to a show. You want to make sure that all of your plants are arranged in a proper height pattern. If you put the taller ones in front of the shorter ones you will not be able to appreciate their foliage or their blooms.

By drawing out a map of the bed, you can not only plan what types of plants you will be using, but how many and where you want them to go: do you want them in straight line rows, or would you like to “mix” it up a bit by adding some variation to the flow of the bed?

Will you plant in singles or will you be planting in “drifts”?

What color arrangement?

Will your colors be random or planned?

For the sake of proper instruction, I am going to show you how to plan for two different types of flower beds.

The first will be a bed that backs onto a structure such as a building or a fence. The plants MUST be arranged from the tallest plants at the back to the shortest at the front. If this rule is not observed, the shorter plants will not be seen.


(HEY...I AM A GARDENER...NOT AN ARTIST!!!!! excuse the wonderful drawing and printing please)

The second is one that is free standing in the middle of your garden. This one is planted in rounds. Start in the middle with your tallest flowers and plants and work your way out. You can work in drifts of plants and colors or in straight circles. The preference is yours to decide.

The diagram below is of a bed up against a structure that has been arranged with geraniums, snap dragons and some marigolds. Dusty miller has been used to accent the corners and either pansy or portulaca are used as a border for the entire bed. Each square on the grid paper is used to represent 6 inches of soil in the bed.


This is an example of planting in drifts, and straight lines.

The snapdragons are carefully arranged at the back of the bed in because they are a tall plant. The geraniums are in the middle in a grouping in order to accentuate their prolific blooming and vibrant colors. Pansy and portulaca are short plants and therefore are placed in front of the marigolds which are also clumped together for high color impact. Adding the Dusty miller to the corners in a diamond shape, will pull the eye to them as well as allow the color of the other blooming flowers to pop off of the soft silver of their leaves.

Planning a bed on paper leaves you room to change your mind over and over again. It also can help you to estimate how many plants of each type you may need to purchase.

If you are going to plan for color schemes, it is possible to try out different combinations by using the crayons that you brought to the table and marking the different colors on the letters you used to “legend” your map. You could also use color to define the different plants, instead of the letters of the alphabet.

The possibilities are endless.

Another way to plan for your gardens is to use photographs. If you had the forethought to take some photos in the fall just before the snow fell and the annuals have been removed, you could print the photos off onto regular paper and draw directly onto the actual bed! Using photos of your gardens from the previous season, will also help you to remember what you did and did not like about the plantings that you had that year, and either add or delete to your taste!

I can read my maps with ease...but am not able to read a road map to save my life!
Have fun with your planning and get creative! If you have any questions...or need some know where to find me!

I know I am not perfect, and if I have confused you...I am happy to try to unravel what ever I may have wound! lol

Until next time….happy gardening!

*)*)*) you know I luvs ya!

¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.



Four Paws and Co said...

I love that picture! Great story & ideas! I like the chalk board for planning, but not if you have little ones around trying to help.

I didn't realize, silly me, that geraniums are annuals for you. Mine live for so many years & they're hard to kill. ☺

Blogger said...

That is so pretty and lush and tha bike...perfect! I love to garden, but boy oh boy do I ever make some dumb mistakes, lol. I guess I am still learning as I go along ;)

Antiques and More Blog said...

Oh! How pretty! I want one now..

Thanks for the tip(s)~

Have a Blessed Day~


Anonymous said...

Hello! I think this was a very informative post! I have been doing this since 2007, I had some graph paper laying around and was like, "why not?". May I aski why you only use annuals and don't plant perrenials? I like the idea of just doing that, it is unique and differnt from most peoples landscapes.


CiNdEe's GaRdEn said...

I love your chalkboard story! My kids would have done that too!(-: I know it must have been hard to lose the info though, but now you can look back and laugh(-:
Dusty miller grows forever here and so do most geraniums.(-: It gets so cold there though I guess they would be annual for you. Your flower beds are gorgeous! They should be featured in a garden magazine.

cindy said...

Wow! thats alot of information! thanks! Sooo, do you ever catch anyone driving by your house and snapping pictures of your flower beds? I bet people do!

Betty said...

Thanks for the info! Where I use to live the lady used binoculars!
I love your flower beds.
Have a great day.


Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Hi Tootsie! What a well thought out and informative post! Also...loved your story about the chalkboard and nosy neighbor!! So funny. I really learned so much from this. Thank you for stepping it out and sharing the great maps/drawings. It looks so simple when you put it on the graph paper, but so complex, lush, and luxurious in the picture (love the way you incorporated the bike, with flowers in the basket and all!). I have a back wall that is now bare, due to renegade Morning Glories having their way for far too long (we torn them out last weekend :0). It's my guess that I will be trying your wall strategy very soon. Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to pass along this valuable knowledge. I really appreciate it.

Lori said...

Thanks for the tips. I have a fountain and seating area that does not get a lot of sun. i have a few plants in that area, but need more color. do you have any ideas as to what plants i should use for sun/shade more shade than sun. I get the evening sun. I have a bulldog and she doesn't care that I have plants she just steps all over them.

Love the story. Thanks again for the tips.
I would love to email you a picture of what I am talking about if you have any ideas.. Let me know if I can.

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

I love the way you plan things out, I just go to the nursery and pick all the pretty things I see and plop them in the ground, sometimes it turns out great and sometimes not so, but I love the look anyway. Your flower beds are gorgeous. Hugs, Marty

LillyB said...

Great Post!!! I am so glad you put Daliahs in your favorites!!!
Have a great day!!

Kim said...

Oh Tootsie - where DID you get such a green thumb? You are absolutely amazing! I probably won't get to do as much as I'd like to in my flower beds this year because of the economy crisis, but I will happily live vicariously through yours! ~Kim

Miss Laura Lu/RMS4291960 said...

Tootsie! Yesterday we had a high of almost 80*, tonite there are winter storm warnings! I really want to get my garden off to a good start this year! I know the problem is first my soil. I have existing flower beds in the front with perennials (the hybrid daylilies are already coming up!) what do I need to add to the soil to make for better flowers this year and better water retention? You need to write a book girl!Thanks and God Bless you today! lauralu :)

Helen said...

You are making me wish for a home with a yard! I have to settle for container gardening on both my decks. But, I find it fascinating to read your gardening posts ... so I will 'see' you later.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tootsie Wootsie! Oh, this is just like in a magazine showing you which flowers to plant. You're amazing! Oh, I'm sorry, but I could see your little boy erasing that chlak board away!! Having so much fun at his mommy's expence!
Take care, Dear One,
Shelia ;)

bj said...

Oh, my....Tootsie, if ever I could have just a small flower garden like this I would do the Happy Dance nude...well..ok, semi-nude...well ok...THE HAPPY DANCE!!
Now, I am looking for an old bike...your's looks so so cute here.
Thanks so much for all the good tips..
ox bj

Designs on 47th Street said...

What a cute story! Thanks for the diagram. It's fun to see how you go about your planning for something so beautiful to come forward.

Thanks for the tips!


Garden Antqs Vintage said...

I wanted to tell you how beautiful your garden is. I've been watching the weather and seeing how cold it's been in Canada, burrr...wishing you warm weather soon. Thanks for always stopping by, Theresa

Sassy said...

Your yard is to die for...that is what I would like mine to look like...I came across your blog from Dawnie...if you don't mind I am putting you on my are my hero...I live in Arizona and it gets soooo dang hot....but I have hope..

Ashley ~ said...

I live in a highrise and only have a small balcony, but I loved reading your post and seeing the picture. Beautiful*!!!


Tardevil said...

Your gardens are beautiful. I wish I could have even 1 like them. Thanks for following my blog. Since they changed blogger a few weeks ago, I couldn't figure out how to get to your blog, but I saw your picture on Lynette's blog, and came over. All of your photos are gorgeous. I've got to come back & see what you do next. :O) I sure hope your snow melts soon. I was so glad when ours melted!

~♥~ Monica S said...

NOmatter how I tried.. I would NEVER have agarden like yours!! I HATE weeding!! I neew plants that takes care of themselves ;-) hehe... I CAN water them sometimes... no problem :-)
I envy you your skills!

Lots of love

Salmagundi said...

I will be back to reread this post when it is closer to time to plant. I need to plan then so I can tell my husband what to do. Thanks for the info. Sally

Admin said...

Thank you for these tips Tootsie. I'm going to give this an honest try and blog about it.

Did I miss tips 1 - 12? I have to go back.

Love the music BTW.

Michelle, All Home and Love said...

Thanks so much for the great tips. I will put them to good use as soon as the ground is ready for me!

Anonymous said...

Love the chalkboard story Tootsie!! Just think of all the funny we would not have to tell if it wasn't for our children!!!

I have always been a horrible on paper planner for my gardens- I don't know what it is - I do end up diagraming (sp) afterwards so that I know what the name of the plants are that I planted in the garden.

I will try harder this year to do it right o wonderful teacher!!


Miss Janice said...

Well, you are the "Queen of the Garden." I am totally not yard is a mess! The photo is just beautiful and makes me wanna get myself to a garden center, pronto! I swear, I have never been able to remember the difference between annuals and perineals (I can't even spell them). Thank you for your kind comment about my tablescape!

Justine said...

See now, I could NEVER do this. I just don't have the creativity in me. I see your grid drawing and it looks like gobbledeegook, but man, when you've got it in the yard, WOW. I can't wait to see what you do with the gardens this year! Do you feel like you always have to top the last season?

Justine :o )

ksarra said...

Hi Tootsie, thanks for the tutorial. Your flowerbeds are so pretty, you certainly have a green thumb. I love that old bike leaning against the tree!

Michelle, All Home and Love said...

Thanks for coming back again. :) Hey, I wanted to ask you if you have some good tips for shade gardening? We have two huge trees in the front and I plan on putting some hostas in. After that, I'm feeling stumped as to what to do. We have very little grassy area in the front of our house so I'd like to slowly make the beds bigger and bigger every year and replace the lawn. Our backyard is mostly taken over by kids and dogs so I want that front space to be all mine!

My Galveston Cottage said...

Hi there!
WOw. WoW. Wow. Love your garden!! Can you please come do mind, because even if with colored pencils, it won't look like this! I wish. I do like to piddle in the garden. Looking forward to spring. OK, what are drifts? I'm such a newbie. (thanks, too, for stopping in at my blog. I'll be back!, -susan

Chrissy...The Apothecary Shop said...

Love your photo!!! So glad you came by, hope you are well my friend!!

nikkicrumpet said...

hmmm that sure makes my concept of just plopping whatever plant in whatever empty space I can find seem pretty lame! I didn't know it was supposed to be PLANNED! I guess that would explain why my gardens don't look gorgeous and lush and beautiful. Hey do you hire out???

Anonymous said...

Great ideas! The garden is lush and beautiful. Thanks for the info.

Raxx - A day in the life said...

Tootsie I am catching up on your blogs! starting here and working my way up.

Do you know I bought a few garden planning books in the past and NONE of them made planning as simple and understandable as you just did!

I hung on to every word of this post and enjoyed it immensely!

I was always scared of trying to map my garden on paper but it makes sense!

Off to read more>

The Preppy Student said...

Thanks for following me- Im returning the favor. I loved visiting your blog and found your layout to be adorable!

Unknown said...

I am a new follower and newbie at blogging. I just had someone do my blog design over and still have a few minor glitchs but I have GFC up and running, posts can be done and I have my own button now! I would greatly appreciate a follow back and if you see something that needs tweaking, let me know. Thanks!

Mary @

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

Great post Tootsie!

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

That is great. I think annuals look best packed close together. I never follow the packet rules about how far apart they should be. I've use the coloring trick some years to see if my purple and yellow flowers in the front garden are getting equal time.

Tanyia said...

I am your newest follower!

I am stopping by from Follow Me Back Tuesday, come follow me as well if you like! :)

Heather Jones said...

If only it wasn't still winter in our neck of the woods snow blankets the ground still...

I'm following from the totally Tuesday blog hop. I'd love for you to follow back.

Heather From and Mommy Only Has Two Hands! and Lynhea Designs

Betty said...

I beat you on this one. I started mine in January on paper. I wished I did years ago and it would have saved us alot of time and aches.

Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Those flower beds are gorgeous! My thumbs are more black than green (all my plants tend to die), so I'm very impressed! New follower from Totally Tuesday! Check out my blog if you get the chance :)

Unknown said...

Following your blog. Hope you can follow me HERE! Much appreciated....:)

flarffy2000 said...

I totally looove your blog! I have a comment..... The font on your blog is really hard to read, maybe you could switch to a "plain" font.

Wakela said...

Hopping over from Totally Tuesday. I am a new follower.

Bren Haas said...

I love this design - you are very creative with your landscaping.

What colors are you using this year?

siteseer said...

you make it sound so easy. My gardens are a lot more perenials. I usually just buy a few annuals to fill in ... and marigolds to keep the deer away. And always a few more perenials just to keep things going. Love your posts. I'm so looking forward to spring and summer.