For most people a garden means flowers - which often are its most exciting feature, according to Dr. Charles Dunham, University of Delaware horticulturist. But flowers are only one element in a garden, he says.
Creating the display of blooms you evision for your summer garden takes planning during the winter or early spring. The effect is easiest to achieve with annuals, or bedding plants, as they are often called, Dunham says.
Such plants include petunias, marigolds, impatients, zinnias, ageratum and a host of others.
Though they very in shape, size and texture, these plants have one thing in common: They bloom prolifically for a long period in the summer and then, if the spent blossoms are cut off to prevent seed formation, they bloom some more.
They can be grouped in beds (small areas with a regular shape) or borders. A border implies a larger area, much longer than wide. It may be either regular or irregular in outline. Both beds and borders require careful planning.
Beds are usually easier to design because of the smaller area and fewer kinds of plants they include. In both beds and borders, the ling axis of plant groups should parallel the front edge and taller plants should be placed behind shorter ones.
An informal border offers the greatest challenge because it can include many different kinds of plants.
For greater interest, arrange groups of annuals so that each group functions visually as a floral mass, rather than straight rows of individual plants.
Vary the groups in lenght and width.
Use smaller plants in much greater numbers than large plants. Vary heights so that some middle-sized flowers arre occasionally used near the front edge of the bed or border.
Think of color combinations also, Dunham advises. A single color scheme may dominate the whole border, ot you may want to place groups of different colored annuals next ot each other for contrasr.
Outlining a plan on paper is often helpful in deciding what to put in your annual border. A good garden catalog can give you an idea about the colors, kinds of plants and number of each you ewant to out together.
Visualizing and planning the bed or border can be exciting and a lot of fun, maybe something to be proud of all summer long.