planning a new garden

mosswitchJuly 26, 2012

I have sketchbooks full of drawings, for jewelry, paintings, gardens, etc., scrapbooks and files full of clippings and ideas, photos of gardens and a library full of art and garden books that I refer to all the time.

I usually have an idea/vision of how I want a new bed to look, where it should fit in with the rest of the garden, and plan and draw it out, marking spots for new aquisitions way ahead of time. Sometimes it takes several tries before I get it right in my head, and then when I actually have the plants in my hand, it gets changed again as I plant it, just like with my jewelry, beadwork, paintings and other crafts.

Sometimes I just have the barest idea, and it develops as I work. Quite often this works out better than planning each detail in advance as you never really know how something is going to look until you get there. On occasion I'll study something for a while, then put the project in the back of my mind until inspiration strikes and it all comes together.

How do you plan and lay out a new hosta bed/garden? Do you sketch it out, plan where each new plant should go, choose each hosta to fit your design, pick out companion plants before you lift a shovel, or just order the ones you covet and work them in someplace, planning as you go?


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peggy_hosta(z4 neSD)

I do a basic plan of what colors and sizes I'd like to see. Sometimes split my own for the new garden but usually get new cultivars from my most wanted list. The shade perennials also have a reserved spot somewhere in the new garden. Of course, you need to lay out the bones of the garden first ie. rocks, gates, fountains.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 3:30PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Sandy, usually what I do is research the hostas that I want to plant according to colour and size. I decide on the site of the largest ones first, then add the medium ones I want to use according to what I think will be pleasing combinations. I leave enough space for their mature size, so I don't have to move those and use smaller ones as fillers that I can move as the others fill in. I also use companion plants as fillers, so that I don't have to weed as much. Then, when I shop at the nursery some have been sold out or unavailable, so I end up improvising. The nursery staff has been good at suggesting replacements. Once I get home before digging any holes, I place them in their designated spots and make final decisions about where they are to go and plant them. Last year I went out to check out my new plantings to find that the squirrels had uprooted every one. It gave me an opportunity to move some of them around because I wasn't happy about the placement of a new garden bench. So the squirrels had the last say!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 3:53PM
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The first bed my wife let me lay out is our 'Horseshoe Bed'. All in all, I'm very proud of it, but there's a GLARING OOPS in it.

I did all the research about expected clump size (this reminds me of a recent rant I wrote about how Hosta size is properly specified by height, since that is out of our control, whereas clump width is easily controlled by sharpened tools such as shovels, trowels, or even spoons for minis).

Sooooo, I laid out the various Hostas, still in the pots, to adjust the variegation patterns 'look', still using the expected mature clump sizes for spacing.

DOH! I totally didn't consider the height issue, so now there's one in the middle that will, cannot, ever match the height of it's neighbors, cotton-picker, oops!

I cannot right now find a pic of said bed, but y'all can probably imagine how silly it looks to have a horseshoe shaped bed of big, stunning Hosta with one of them in the middle that is half the height of all it's neighbors.

All of the Hostas in this bed are doing so well that I'm having a hard time deciding to move 3 of them around to more properly display them.

Guess I'll have to, for years to come, point out my oops to visitors in hopes they will know to consider height, perhaps before clump size, with regard to bed layout.

fwiw, and I'll try to remember to take/upload a pic.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 11:24PM
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I will be....once again :/ doing a new garden in the beginning of fall as my hosta looks AWFUL! Last year,w e had 3 weeks of 100 degree weather, and they didn't come close to looking like they do this year. I'm hoping I haven't lost a couple :(

I usually draw up several different plants before committing to a "Set" plan. I change my mind hundred's of times. LOL

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 6:07AM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

HH, I soo feel your pain. I goofed big time when I planted my first PLANNED hosta bed. I grouped my hostas by flower colour. I DID research plant height and plant width but the Regal Splendor hasn't grown taller than the three Krossa Regals as expected. Bressingham Blue has grown taller (and wider than reported width) than Blue Angel, so I'm going to move BB to a new bed. I found a mature Regal Splendor to put in BB's spot.

The other thing to consider is rate of growth because you don't want to put a slower growing hosta behind a faster growing one. I placed Tokudama Flavocircinalis (slightly taller at maturity) behind Cutting Edge in another part of my garden and it just hasn't kept up to CE.

At this point in time I like the look of varying heights in my hosta gardens . i feel it creates more interest. I've noticed you have done that in most of your hosta beds. HH, if you replaced another big hosta with another about the size of your smaller one it might not look so out of place??

Looking forward to seeing a picture of your horseshoe bed.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Sandy, you can always tell when an artist plans a garden. One book I like is called MONET"S GARDEN, about his plans and plantings at Giverny. He planned, planted, and painted, and it was a feast for the eyes. My love for nasturtiums came from the way he allowed them to encroach on his wide pathways, like they were flowing waterways all sorts of irregular banks. And the archways HUGE archways with gigantic roses growing on them. He of course had a LOT of help. He planted them like he wanted to paint them. Inspirational.

Yeah, I'm having a lot of adjusting to do in my head, plus in the size of flower pots, because a plant I thought was fairly large turned out to be a SMALL. Thank heaven I am doing this in POTS, and all I must do is shuffle them around instead of exhausting myself digging new holes. Once things get assigned to their proper size category, I might attempt a real BED of hosta.

Along those lines, I'm looking at putting look-alikes together, for now anyway, then the workhorses which can be mass planted (my definition of mass planting is 3 the same size and color in one area) to provide the background for the soloists. While I am not into symmetry, I am into balance....not all heavy looking down one row, and then the small fragile stuff elsewhere. I rather think the tropics and jungles have the right idea...things up high, things down low, texture and sheen in a field of dark green.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 7:08PM
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