Your creativity and perhaps your back muscles are the only limitations to what to grow in your flower garden border design. For best success, always group plants with similar light, soil and watering needs next to each other. Remember, plants can be dug and relocated if you don't like your initial creation. The more you experiment, the more informed you become as to your personal aesthetic tastes, gardening ability and good colour and foliage combinations.
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Segregate by Color
One of the simplest ways to organise and create visual interest in a flower border is to segregate the plants by foliage or flower colour. Create a long bed of plants that mimics the rainbow's colour order, or only choose three or four favourite colours and assign plants to each section. Much like the Color Walk at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, various flowering plant species (annual or perennial) can be planted to create sections with varying tints and shades of one colour. Grouping like-coloured plants intensifies the visual experience while allowing shape and texture of flowers and leaves to become highlighted.
Choose an overlying theme for the flower border. Potential themes are endless and limited only by your creativity (or budget if you are really ambitious). Barbara Damrosch, author of "Theme Gardens" suggests many ideas. Themed flower borders could include plants that are fragrant, attract butterflies, or evoke a past era. For example, an American colonial or Victorian garden utilises plants or designs that were popular in that period, potentially using plant species that were in existence at the time. Or, perhaps inspiration comes from literature: a flower border of plants with names of characters from the Bible or Shakespearean works. Adding statuary, white picket fence or other artistic props can solidify a theme. A blank wall or garage facade can make an effective enclosure of backdrop to your border according to American garden designer P. Allen Smith. Research your themes thoroughly, as you want to know before you plant whether or not a lot of plant types exist to support your theme.
Alternate Plant Types
From a traditional, literal perspective, only flowers grow in a flower border. Modern gardens are often limited on space and extensive plant breeding allows gardeners to grow and enjoy a wealth of plant species and cultivars that didn't exist 100, 50 or even 10 years ago. Consider creating blocks within the border that are strictly used for annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs. Each area groups plants with similar growing and maintenance requirements. Thus, changing out annuals killed by frost is simplified if all annuals are in one area that can be quickly cleaned, tilled and replanted with new seasonal vegetation. Of course, you can group these different plant types with colour or other themes, too.
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