How to Combine Perennial Flowers in the Garden

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Perennial beds brighten the landscape.

Many new gardeners worry that they do not have the skills necessary to design their own perennial beds. Most are surprised to discover that many experienced gardeners do not have a specific garden plan. The assumption, of course, is that there is some magical formula for designing an attractive flower garden. The truth is, much of gardening design is the result of trial and error and a reflection of personal taste. By following a few basic guidelines, nearly anyone can design an attractive and functional perennial bed.

Instructions

    • 1

      Decide on an overall style for your perennial bed. Formal garden beds follow a strict pattern and usually mimic geometric shapes. Borders are created in straight lines and the layout is based on symmetry. Informal gardens follow the terrain and flow naturally as though they have sprung from nature. Both create visual stimulation and make a statement about your personal style. Formal gardens require more care, but can be dramatic. Informal gardens are more forgiving and allow you to experiment with new plants without worries about balance and form.

    • 2

      Consider the overall height and size of plants at maturity. What looks like a cute little plant to tuck into the corner of the bed in the spring may turn out to be a towering plant that blocks your view of other smaller plants. As a rule, tall plants should be placed at the back of gardens viewed from one angle and the center of those viewed from multiple angles. Medium-size plants fill in the interior of the bed, while short mounding plants make up the border.

    • 3

      Vary the texture of your plants. Choose contrast such as fine frilly foliage with big bold leaves to add interest to your perennial bed. Keep in mind leftover foliage from spring blooming bulbs when planning for contrast. Daylilies and iris foliage remains green and spiky throughout the year. Pair them with a contrasting texture.

    • 4

      Consider the color scheme you prefer. Monochrome gardens planted with several flowers in varying hues of the same color can be impressive. Many gardeners prefer to add flowers that provide sharp contrast by choosing colors on the opposite sides or the color wheel. Pairing shades of purple with shades or yellow-orange creates a dramatic show of color, while pairing soft pastels such as pinks, whites and blues exudes romance.

    • 5

      Select perennials that bloom a different times to keep the garden alive with color. Many perennials bloom profusely for a few weeks and then cease blooming until the next year. By planting flowers expected to bloom at different times, your garden becomes an ever-changing display of color from early spring until fall.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't be afraid to experiment with the flowers you prefer. Flowers can always be moved if they don't work out, but you'll never know how a new plant will work out until you try.

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  • Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

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