Monday, June 7, 2010

Designing a Flower Bed

When we first looked at purchasing our home I noticed there was a flower bed located at the front entrance.  Beyond that I had no idea of it's dimensions or what was in it.  It wasn't until months later in early spring when the snow began to disipate that I took a closer look.  What I found then was a small circular bed with a couple of old tree stumps, what I took to be a mountain ash and the remains of weeds.

So I did a little preliminary clearing and it cleaned up quite nicely.
I have some ideas of how I would like this bed to eventually look.  Because it's at the front entrance I'd like to see bright flowers and a romantic cottage garden feel.  Basically, I want the front entrance to be pretty.  To that end, my first purchase for this spot was a lilac bush, Syringa vulgaris.  Wonderful smell, pretty flowers and large enough to create some structure.  Then I attended a plant sale and purchased more flowers and of course they needed a place to live as well.  This was followed by yet another plant sale.

I've now purchased more plants than can possibly live in this space.  I've dug most of the weeds out and put the plants in as a temporary situation but this will not do.  The Rudbeckia laciniata will grow to be 6 feet tall and as wide, the Meadowsweet is likely to be 2 - 4 feet high and wide, as is the Malva moschata. And the invasive plume poppy at 8 feet tall will likely want to overthrow them all.  Expansion is required.

Part of my expansion plan is to change the shape of the bed as well as enlarge it.  So over the weekend we played with a garden hose trying out shapes.  One requirement I have is to widen the area around the apple tree so that I can access it for pruning and picking of apples.  You can just see the hose jutting out on the right hand side in front of the apple tree below.

During the tree planting sessions I also added a white birch to this spot which will be incorporated into the bed.  I would like to create enough room around the birch to encompass it as it grows larger, perhaps adding spring bulbs underneath it.

Now I suppose I could just turn this bed into a rectangle and be done with it but I have purposely worked to add lots of curves.  There's a reason for my madness.  Try standing in front of a long straight flower bed some day and think about what you see.  Walk ten feet down that bed.  Do you see anything different?  Probably not.  Because everything in that bed will generally be visible to you from any point that you stand along that straight line.  Now obviously if you want to see the details in a flower bed you must walk up and look at them but what is there to encourage you to walk down a long straight bed to see those details?  Sometimes this can be done by adding a punch of colour or an interesting focal plant or sculpture but a really easy way to lead people through a flower bed is by using curves.  Curves appeal to our natural sense of curiosity.  If you can't quite see what is around the bend and are unable to take in the entire flower bed from one standing point you will be encouraged to walk and explore.  I want this bed to lead a person to our front door.  I also want it to encourage people to walk around the bed and see the apple orchard on the other side.  This large bed with all it's rounded bits should hopefully accomplish that.  Now I've got to get digging.


  1. Yay for front yard gardening! You won't regret the expansion. The best thing I ever did (kidlets aside) was create the unholy mess of flowers that greet me upon arrival home! Great choice with the Lilac. Flowers and scent! Yes please!

  2. Looking good! I had an island bed at our last house and I loved seeing it when I got home. I haven't started on the front of this home yet but, yes, there will be a big bed of cheery blooms.

    You will have to post more as it progresses. :)