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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!

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