Flower Garden Design Series: Ideas Themes Inspiration Tips & Practical Advice on Flower Gardening

This article begins a series of occasional articles on flower garden design.


I hope it will inspire and encourage you as you design and plant and enjoy your flower garden. While there are many different flower garden styles and many different annuals and perennials (What’s an Annual What’s a Perennial) to plant in them, there are some garden design principles and gardening practices that seem fairly universal. Once you become aware of them, you can use these ideas to create the flower garden of your dreams. (See Garden Journal of Ideas if you need inspiration.) It may take time to develop your flower garden, after all gardens need time to grow and mature and flower their best, but I hope to give you the tools to make your efforts effective and your flower garden successful.

Beginning flower gardeners often look for precise instructions, rules, and how-to directions. While I will try to provide some of that, I also want to help you explore your own potential as a flower gardener and as a flower garden designer.

Flower gardening is part science, and part art. To be truly successful with your own flower garden, you will need to practice both. In fact, it is impossible to practice one without the other!

Common Ground

No matter what style of garden you would like to grow, whether you are using annuals or perennials or a combination, there are some physical constraints that must be taken into account. For example, you might have a shady site. Or you might decide your soil or location poses such insurmountable problems that you should opt for the flexibility of Planting in Raised Beds.

Analyzing the site and understanding the basics of gardening will help you achieve your design goals — and grow healthy flowers. With each garden you plant, although your approach to each garden may be different., there are some basic principles you should be aware of.

Spacing Plants

Skillful flower garden design includes paying attention to spacing as well as to each plant’s cultural needs. Correct spacing allows enough room between individual plants for each one to grow and mature to its full potential. At the same time, in high summer there are no visible gaps between plants, and certainly no bare earth showing.

Succession in Garden Design

Spacing also takes into account succession, meaning what you see in a given space at any given time. In an annual flower garden you may see a constant display from spring until fall, followed by bare ground. Or you may see tiny seedlings emerge, grow and mature, and die. In a perennial garden you may see a constantly changing array of blooms along with the steady display of foliage although it, too, will change throughout the seasons and from year to year as the plants mature..

Garden Design Choices

Successful flower gardens look generously full and floriferous and above all attractive, but are not over crowded. They are the result of conscious choice — and occasional serendipity. Gardens have a style each as individual as the gardener who created them. How you go about accomplishing your own flower garden involves the interplay between many different variables that you, the flower gardener, can manipulate. In occasional coming articles we will look at some of the variables the gardener can control or influence. As you become aware of the different options, I hope you will be inspired to experiment and try new plants, new techniques, new design elements.