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Winter Dreams, Summer Blossoms

Planning Ahead for your Garden

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Winter is a great time for planning a garden. Satisfy all those winter yearnings for color by plunging into gardening books, nursery catalogs and magazines to imagine a creative new vision for your garden. Search the Internet and print out ideas.

Save your ideas on a garden planning board—a bulletin board near your home work area. Tack up magazine photos of gardens you like, catalog clippings of specific plants and flowers and swatches of color that attract you.

While collecting ideas, first decide the purpose of your garden, advises professional landscaper Jon Wilkes of Bellevue’s Branching Out. Do you want a quiet place to meditate, a dramatic show of beautiful color, a place to socialize or a combination of all three in different areas? Do you want a yard planted with evergreens for year-round privacy or open areas to enhance a view of the mountains?

Notice which style of garden feels right to you. Are you attracted to a formal English garden or a wild garden full of native plants that attract and nurture the local bird population? An Oriental garden with pools and smooth sculptural rocks or a modern garden with clean lines and oversized pots?

After deciding the purpose and style of the garden, walk around inside your house noticing which colors you like and imagining the views from each window—perhaps quiet muted colors and shapes outside the bedroom window or an herb garden outside the kitchen.

Once you have an idea of what you like, Kelley Weston of Hailey’s Native Landscapes suggests taking a photo of your yard, laying tracing paper over it, and using pencils to sketch out as many versions as you like. Weston draws shapes first, beginning with the main structural elements—what landscapers call the “bones of the garden,” such as large trees.

“Balance the shapes,” notes Weston. Try a spiky-shaped plant for a dramatic effect (like irises or grasses) and balance it with a low mounded shape for a more serene feeling (mosses). “Certain shapes look better with other shapes. I try to contrast them, balance them, so I don’t have too much of one thing.” Once you figure out the shapes you like, look on your planning board or in books for plants that fit those shapes.  >>>

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