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Vermont Garden Journal: Tips For Great Garden Design

Martin Wahlborg
Even though you can't get out to garden in the winter, you can start to plan what you want your garden to look like in the spring.

Winter is a great time to reflect on last year's garden and plan what to do in the new growing season. Here are some tips to help with your perennial flower garden design:

Look back at pictures of your garden

Photos let you see where the "holes" are for color and interest allowing you to plan where to move plants and where new things will fit

Plant in groups or clumps for a bigger visual impact

Avoid planting one flower in even sets. Go by the odd number rule, planting three, five or seven of the same plants together.

Try to select a variety of plants that bloom in spring, summer and fall

Mix and match these plants together so that each area of the garden always has something blooming. For example, plant bee balm near bleeding hearts. Once the bleeding hearts fade in early summer, the bee balm will fill in the area with foliage and color.

Limit the variety of flowers you grow

It's tempting to plant a little of everything, especially when they look so beautiful in garden centers. A better technique is to reduce the size of your plant palette and repeat the same plants around the garden. This holds the design together. 

Remember to include plants with great foliage and seed heads

Euphorbia is a popular plant with variety of leaf colors. Peony and baptisia have interesting seed pods after flowering is finished. Use these traits to add interest and add more than just color to your garden.

For this week's tip: Spend a cold winter day looking over your seed starting supplies and make a list of what seeds, soil, pots, labels, and trays you may need and buy them now so you're ready to go in the spring. 

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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