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Planning your summer flowering garden

Updated: Nov 6, 2019

If your wanting to enjoy flowers in your garden this summer, a little plan and action will see you enjoying blooms for months to come.

If your anything like me, your external environment plays a huge impact on your mind and how you feel. A garden to me is essential for any home. It's also proven that the simple act of gardening generates endorphins, so it's an ideal end of day activity for mental health.

For my home garden, I like to plan ahead so that throughout the year we have different flowers in the garden, 12 months of the year (or at least I try to). I can admire them, pick them, arrange them and photograph them, and it gives me so much joy doing it. If this is something you would like to achieve or work on then it will take a little planning, minimal resources and commitment to achieve it. Anything is achievable if you really set your mind to it and Commit! Watching a plant grow and flower from your own nurturing is addictive - I dare you to try it.

1. Choose your garden plot

You may choose to plant out a garden 'section' or alternatively, the entire garden. If you are planning for your entire garden, ensure that you break it up into 'sections',

so that each 'section' can be designed and planned individually. This will simplify your task. Standing before your garden section, observe the trees, hedges, roses or perennials that are existing and observe the exact spaces that need to be filled with 'summer flowers' (annuals or bulbs). Remember that the existing bones of the garden will flourish and grow vigorously again in the warmer months, reducing the space for 'summer flowers'.

(my first summer garden in our newly bought home January 2018 - every year you look back and try to improve from past seasons, gardening is a life long evolving skill)

2. Photograph the plot (or multiple sections) you are planning

When you sit down to plan, having an image or even better a printed A4 image of the garden section will allow you to easily refer and see what actually exists showing the current colours, shapes, sizes and textures you will need to marry with new 'summer flowers'.

3. Start your written plan

Sit down and compile your notebook, a pencil, any garden books, nursery catalogues, Pinterest and online nursery product ranges. I like my 'written plan' to also present well on paper. Print, tear our, or ear tag any garden inspiration or plant varieties you really love the look of. Lay them out on a desk in front of you (or pin to a mood board) - collectively, this will set the theme for your 'summer garden'.

- In your notebook I want you to write down:

The goal for your summer garden (what it is you want to get out of it - pick and arrange flowers, to have colour and interest in your garden, to spend more time in the garden)

What colour scheme will you have (three colours are a good starting point, i.e white, blue and pink are my go to)

How do you want the garden to feel and present (i.e whimsical and cottage like, formal and structured, vibrant and tropical)

What is your budget for new summer flowering plants

4. Choose the annuals and bulbs you are going to purchase & quantities

I shop at Garden Express and Tesselaar (both online) for garden bulbs - pricing is very reasonable and items are shipped to your door (time to treat yourself). Annuals should be purchased from your local nursery as young seedlings, or even better, if you have seed stock already, it is great to sow your own seeds and save yourself some money (I grow Cosmos and Zinnias every summer from my own saved seed - they germinate quite easily).

Easy to grow options - recommended for any beginner gardener

Summer flowering Bulbs

- Lilliums - elegant and soft - great in pots too!

- Dahlias - striking blooms

- Gladioli (though thought to be a bit old school, amazing pastel tones can be acquired)

Summer flowering Annuals

- Cosmos

- Zinnia

Summer flowering Perennials

- Salvia

- Walking Iris

- Agapanthus

- Hippeastrums

- Gaura (Bee Blossom)

- Coriopsis

Once decided on the plants to purchase, write this in your written plan, with quantities and costing for your reference.

5. Drawing a visual (you don't have to be a good drawer to do this)

I like to write my garden plan down in words, followed by an illustration to bring it to life. Using a ruler to draw your garden edges (or curve lines if not straight borders), refer to your garden photo for scale of what already exists in the space - draw existing plants first.

Height & width considerations

Fill in the blanks with 'summer flowers' and the exact quantity of new plantings. When filling in the blanks you need to consider height and width that each acquired plant will grow to, they need to be layered appropriately i.e. - short growing towards the front, and taller plants behind.

By way of an example -

Front layer or row of perennials in my garden are no taller than 40cm in height (Featuring agapanthus, seaside daisy, walking iris, blue salvia's)

Second height layer - up to 1m in height (Roses, Love and Wishes Salvia, Dahlias, Cosmos, Lilliums, Hippeastrums, ground cover)

Back height layer - trees, shrubs, hedges, climbers

To the side of the illustration, title each and every plant featured in your summer flowering garden.

For a few years I have been intrigued and a little frustrated on how to 'map out' a garden for the season ahead. I would have all these ideas in my head that I didn't know what to do with. I've found that if I don't take a little time to plan ahead, it comes to summer or spring and I wish my garden was showing more abundance. This plan I have trialled is a very practical and visual approach to actually planning the garden in steps, making it simple to actually organise. Of coarse, the most enjoyable part is seeing plants grow and flower.

If this is something that has been of genuine help or not please leave a comment below, it can be two words! I actually love hearing from people - there's no such thing as a silly question.

Nat x

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