thing to plan are the "bones" of the new garden. Garden
bones are not as spooky as they sound. They are the permanent
obviously structural things in the yard - trees, hedges, ornamental
shrubs, walks and paths, ponds, fountains, statuary, arbors, trellises,
gazebos, and benches. The importance of bones cannot be
overstressed. Gardens would look dead without them, buried as they
are for most of us, under a thick blanket of snow right now. (Photo
courtesy of GWB - her birdbath in the shade garden)
It is the
conifers, the tree and shrub skeletons, arbors, gazebos and
trellises, walls and pathways that provide some kind of winter interest,
even if it is in black and white right now. This is why winter is
a great time to plan a new garden.
It's also the perfect time to
look around the neighborhood and see what looks interesting, even in
winter under snow, in neighbors' gardens. Some things you can
learn from your own yard, others from neighboring places, and a few by
visiting a local nursery which prides itself on having an interesting
garden in winter as well as spring, summer and fall.
It's also a
good time to notice the things in your existing garden that have gone
dormant and left big blank spots. While these plants have definite
uses, you don't want to rely too heavily on them if this is a garden the
world will see daily as it drives by.
Most gardens are bounded on at least three sides by hedges, fences or even stone
walls. Sometimes, they are unattractive and will have to be hidden
permanent planting. If the front of your house has a fairly boring
concrete foundation that screams for something permanent to hide it -
make a note: look into evergreen shrubs and plants (but don't
plant them under the eaves - they won't get sufficient water - they
should be at least 2 feet away from the wall).
Other pre-existing bones are your front walk and driveway. These
can be sharp diagonals or soft curves leading from the street to the
front porch or garage. In most cases, this will divide the
garden-to-be into unequal portions, one appreciably larger than the
other(s). Usually the larger part is quite deep, which would make
it impossible to access much of the garden if it were planted as one
large bed. So an additional path dividing this kind of area into
manageable sections is the way to go. For a front garden path,
fieldstone or stone-look pavers, are practical and attractive. Try
to use materials that will blend with existing masonry used in your home
gardens can have this arrangement too, but often have a large swath
taken up with a driveway or patio, or even a pool. For rear
garden paths, you can use bark chips, gravel, pavers, or even shingles
for a well-traveled garden path. These too are bones.
Patio's may need shade during the hottest part of the day, but pools
should never have trees nearby to minimize leaf-drop into the water.
Children's play areas, tool sheds and other semi-permanent structures
also count as bones.
Does your yard need shade? Then plan for a shade tree to the
south-west of the
garden area that requires shading. If your garden is already
slightly shaded by a neighbor's large tree, that too acts as a bone and
you must work around it. Pencil in an oval on your garden plan to
indicate where shade will fall. With that in mind, consider adding
new bones like azaleas and rhododendrons. (Photo courtesy of
SueFromDallas - her pond and a glimpse of the garden path)
For winter as well as summer interest, consider Cornus alba
'Argenteo-marginata' and Variegated Red Twig Dogwood. In the
winter these have bright red twigs that will show off nicely against the
white bark of birch trees and of course, the snow! In summer they
have leaves variegated green and white - a cooling picture on a hot day.
Eventually these grow quite large, so plan ahead. Some of the tall
grasses are beautifully colored and hold the snow in interesting ways
for more winter interest.
trellises against unattractive fences and sheds, and grow flowering
vines on them. Plan arbors at the entry or off to the side of
garden paths to create an elegant entrance or a resting spot. You
should leave at least one nice open spot in your garden - preferably at
the end of a path. This is the perfect spot for a small bench or
chair in which to sit and enjoy the sun or shade and admire your garden.
So there you have it - garden bones. Some of them living, some
structural, but all of them things that will look good in summer and
winter, give some height, depth and structure to the garden, and add
visual interest even under snow.
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