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How do I go about planning a flower bed/garden
Leanne Lovie
January 24, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I have recently moved into a house with a back patio that I love and a bed set up that should be perfect for the style of garden I like. I'm really fond of English cottage style gardens and I like a more natural/wild look compared with a manicured one (I hate neat little rows of flowers and the like.)

The challenges are that it's a fairly small space so I need to be very deliberate if I want year round interest and all that good stuff. The patio is surrounded by 7ft walls and the house so it gets mostly shade. I'd love to have some herbs and edibles as well as flowers.

Where do I start? Any suggestions. Sorry I only have photos taken at night right now. Currently there's a Carmelia tree, a little pine, and a fern that I'm happy with and alot of open space
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Sigrid
The first thing to do is go go around your neighborhood and see what other people are growing that you like. If you decide you want a particular plant, read catalogues about cultivars carefully. For popular plants, there are often the originals (which might flower for a week) and more recently developed versions with better properties.

There is shade and shade. LIght, part of the day shade, dappled shade and deep shade.

Year round interest depends a lot on your location. If you get snow, you might want something architectural. I must say, what makes me love my garden in winter is my bird feeder.
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 9:56PM
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yvonnecmartin
I suggest that you investigate the books by Susan A Roth and Janet Macunovich--they will help you design a garden that won't take hours of your time, will look good, and should grow in your climate. You can also visit the website of Dave's Garden for lots of information on plants.
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Leanne Lovie
OH I forgot to say I'm in the Portland, Oregon, so Pacific Northwest, never too hot or too cold. I'm a floral designer so I'm familiar with alot of different plants and nurseries and stuff. What I'm really asking is how to I go about planning for year round color in what I've been told is a very shady space (I"ve only been in the house since Christmas) to get the English Garden, naturalistic feel that I want.
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 10:17PM
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Jean Tuck
Consider plants that are zone happy for your garden and decide of you want succulents(frequent watering) or ones that can thrive on less wateringdepending on your work scheduleso area stays nice once you've completed it.An area for a couple comfy lawn chairs and umbrella table for shade to enjoy sitting out in and maybe having lunch or morning coffee out there, and a bbq as well, most everyone loves to cook outside in good weather. so patio stones will be needed to . I might depending on budget add a lowrise seating area alongside the garden area incase you have guests and for easy weeding if you have lots of plants for color.
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 10:36PM
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Manon Floreat
Hi, Leanne. We live in a similar climate zone - I'm in Seattle. I can relate to your dilemma as I moved into my house a little over a year ago and couldn't wait to get started on the garden.

My best advice to you is to do your research now but to hold off on major garden purchases and finalizing your plan until you've been in your space for a year. The reason being is that you'll get a better understanding of how the sun moves through your plot in the different seasons. What gets sun, when and where is really important to a good garden plan.

Once you've got your plan outlined, getting seasonal interest is pretty much just in the timing of planting as well as having strong bones of a garden (trees, structures, rockery, etc.)

Do you like Daphne? That's one thing I did get for a shady protected spot outside my back door. I love that in another month I'll be greeted by the divine fragrance. I definitely consider that to be part of my winter garden "interest"

Sigrid - I totally agree that the bird feeder is a delight in the dismal days of winter. I've got Hummingbirds buzzing around so fast, I'm tempted to call the FAA!
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 10:49PM
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Leanne Lovie
Daphne is one I'd definitely planned on looking up and seeing if it could handle the shade! Now that I know that it can I'm tempted to pick some up when it starts appearing at the nursery and shove some in.. . . . but you just said I shouldn't do that. I did discuss the garden with the previous owner and he said it rarely gets sun and to plant anything like vegetables someplace else. There are a couple succulents back there, and I definitely plan on using them. They're one of the plants that will get randomly harvested for floral design projects. I also will be picking up a bird feeder, I just hadn't decided what kind I wanted or gotten to it yet.

I guess my biggest questions are:

Should I just add to the garden as the seasons change or should I plan it all out before hand? If I'm planning it our do I need to specify every plant or just things like "something with interesting foliage" or "something that blooms in September." What about techniques like layered planting to keep from having seasonal bare spots?

When planting what do I need to do to give it the tight wild feel I want? Can I just ignore the instructions and plant things closer together? It works for container gardens . . . or do I have to wait for years to have this style of garden?
0 Likes   January 26, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Noonan Rubick
Hi Leanne! I live at high altitude in Colorado - exact opposite climate than you have - but have a great garden! In fact, it is the best part of the house/property! The way I have done it is to look through some catalogs with plants specific to my region (I use Highcountry Gardens) to get some ideas. Talk to the local nurseries. Then over a few years I just buy a few things a l like and put them in how I like (which is pretty random) and see how I like it! If I don't like where something is or it isn't doing great, I move it. If I don't like the plant I find it a new home. My yard has ended up with a great, natural, fun, colorful feel. I have a lot of birdfeeders all over the yard but even better I have planted several bushes that attract the birds we get throughout the year. I put in heated water dishes which really brings the birds all winter. So... My suggestion, which is not a very landscaperish or designery suggestion, is ignore the instructions and planned gardens and plant what you like!! Watch it grow, change it, rearrange it and have a fantastic time in your yard. Best of luck and I hope it evolves just as you like it. (ps.. my yard is about as "tight and wild feeling" as it gets!)
0 Likes   January 26, 2013 at 10:03AM
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PRO
Steve Masley Consulting and Design
Shade is challenging for a cottage garden and year-round color. You can start by checking the Sunset Western Garden Book's suggested plants for shade--they have a section in the front listing trees, shrubs, annuals, and bulbs that perform well in shade, and you can check their extensive plant encyclopedia to see their growth requirements.

With a moist climate and shade, you want to avoid overcrowding plants, to avoid powdery mildew and other diseases. This is especially important if you want to try plants that are marginal performers in shade.

The next full moon, go outside at night and look at the shadows. The path of the moon is the path of the sun 6 months later, so the moon shadows will show you what kind of light you'll have in summer. You'll have to imagine the skeletal shadows of deciduous trees as they'll be when the leaves fill out, but this is a useful tool for gardeners in new locations.
0 Likes   January 26, 2013 at 12:06PM
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