In the Garden:
I am really excited to be back, this time to talk to you about Perennial Gardening. If you’ve ever visited your local Botanical Garden, read a Home & Garden magazine or even driven through your neighborhood, then chances are you’ve seen some pretty perennial gardens.
The way I would explain a perennial garden, is a garden which has color, form and texture, at varying heights and with a repetition of theme. It’s kind of like a symphony that you get to orchestrate. For beginners, there are but a few basic contributions you need to make when creating your first perennial garden.
How To Grow a Perennial Garden
Selecting The Perfect Place
1. Selecting the perfect place: Do you have an area in your yard that could use a little “pep talk”? Well planting a perennial garden just might do the trick. The site you choose can be in the sun or in the shade or anywhere in between. There are perennials for all. Here is a link to Kim Farmers article about site selection that will help.
Design the shape
2. Design the shape: The shape of your new bed is depending on site and desire. If you have it against a fence, you will need a curvy line for the border. If you want a large garden in the middle of your lawn, you need to go with a very organic shape, like a kidney bean. And then there is the entity of “Formal” gardens, which will require straight lines and geometric shapes.
Prepare The Soil
Choose Some Perennials
4. Choose some perennials: Golly there is a lot to choose from I know, but one rule of thumb is “know your zone”. This is the climate zone map that will help . Once you know this, read the plant tags to match your zone, lighting and soil. Select plants with a rhyme and reason, ie. because you like the bloom, because you need the height, because the texture is just right.
Buy your blooms and foliage in color coordinating style, and think about using darks or pastels in full sun spots to “cool” them down and brights in shady spots to lighten them up. Steer clear of using dark colors in shade as they will sub-sequentially get lost. It is really important to buy them in groups of 3 or 5, always odd numbers, so that you can plant “drifts” of them.
Lay-out your garden
5. Lay-out your garden: When you get your plants home, you can make a conceptual sketch of the garden, or simply start placing the pots in the garden, putting the tall plants in groupings and small drifts in the rear or center and working your way to medium height and low growing towards the front or edge. Be sure to mingle your drifts, placing one of the neighboring perennials in the grouping of the other, to break up the drift a little and weave them together. Your goal is to have the eye of the observer gracefully travel through the garden, catching recurring themes, even if supplied by different plants.
Plant, Water In & Mulch
6. Plant, water in & mulch: This is done once you are happy with the placement of your pots in the garden. Planting should come pretty easy because you have prepped the bed. Dig the hole the same size as the pot, remove plant by tipping it upside down and gently shaking and pulling on the plant until it slides out. Massage the root ball to ensure good new root growth once planted. Place it in the hole and fill the sides in with dirt from the hole, pressing firmly around it, being sure no roots are exposed. Thoroughly water your new perennial garden as soon as you are completely finished. Now you should top dress the entire bed with a mulch of your choice. This will hold moisture in and keep weeds at bay. I love using a mulch that is super fine and rich in color, almost like a soil amendment and not a mulch per-say.
That is really all that it takes to create a wonderful Perennial Garden (and I have reached my word count! LOL!) that will be with you for a long, long time.
How to Garden Series:
Step 1 - Ground Site Selection
Step 2 – Improve Gardening Soils
Step 3 – Garden Beds, Pockets and Pots 101
Step 4 – What To Plant
Step 5 – Gardening with Children
Step 6 – Top 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow From Seed
Step 7 – Cut Flower Gardening 101
Step 8 - Container Gardening 101
Step 9 – How to Grow a Salsa Garden
Step 10 – How To Grow a Perennial Garden
Tina is a Southern gardener who has a passion for plants and a desire to learn more about them every day. We are so glad she’s sharing her knowledge with us. You can find her at Botanicsonline, A Southern Gardeners Blog.