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Planting scheme....

I'm planning to dig up my front lawn and replace with raised beds and gravel paths in between. The raised beds will be 1.5m x 1.5m and I'll have six of them. I want to plant up the beds with perennials and have a succession of plants that flower from Spring to Autumn. I've been browsing my RHS encyclopedia and it helpfully provides details of plants I can use depending on the season, however, I dont know how to work out a planting scheme and subsequently work out approximately how many plants per bed. I am planning to use fairly similar plants in all beds, allowing for variations depending on aspect to sun and shade from hedge at front of garden and neighbours garage. Whats the key to coming up with a good planting scheme?


  • auntie bettyauntie betty Posts: 208

    I can heartily recommend the RHS book on planting combinations. Well worth the price as it saves you buying things that end up not working. You look up a plant and it gives you info on it, plus a selection of suggestions of what works well with it, both for looks and for site/soil preference. Look em up in your encyclopaedia and choose one or two, perhaps based on colour and/or flowering time. Then search the combo book for THOSE plants and see what's suggested... and so on.

    The key, I think, is choosing things that contrast with each other, preferably (to me) in foliage colour and texture. I often use plants that I may not even like much (such as bergenia) simply because they show other things off so well because of the contrast. And have decent sized clumps. It also helps in island beds to have one central focal plant to work around. Stops it looking like a cold frame. xx

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    That's a tricky one!  If you are mobile, it might be worth visiting some open gardens around your area.  You can find a list of open gardens supporting charities by using the find facility here:

    Personally, I would start with making a list of my favourite plants & shrubs - "must haves" if you like, look-up their approximate spread and then mark their positions on a scale plan of your layout.  Obviously put the taller things in the centre of each bed and work from there.  Even the professionals keep things in pots and move them around until things look 'right', so I would do the same.


    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • BenDoverBenDover Posts: 484
    Thanks auntie - just purchased planting combinations on Amazon! And also saw and bought Sarah Raven's Bold and Brilliant to boot!
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  • auntie bettyauntie betty Posts: 208

    Eee you little shopping devil - you didn't waste any time! Its a lovely book and great for inspiration. Some of the options offered are very traditional associations, but plenty of surprises too. Let us know how you go. And how the Sarah Raven turns out too. Always on the lookout for another good book...

  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    My piece of advice, should you wish to take it, is to plant larger groups of the same plant than you might imagine needed. If there's one thing I've learnt this year is to be bold and do it in snake shapes or waves rather than fat clumps. It looks way more pro.

    Good luckimage

  • Visiting National Trust and RHS gardens is a great source of inspiration as most of the plants are labelled.  I have just written a blog post on the merits of Hydrangea Limelight.  It establishes quickly and is readily available up to a 1m tall from suppliers so can give an instant feeling of establishment to a planting scheme. The flowers are lime green fading to cream and then finishing with a hint of pink, they flower profusely from August to October providing an impressive display.

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