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How To Choose The Perfect Plants

Landscape design starts with the perfect plants

Autumn is the best time of year to plant new specimens into your garden.  For many, plant shopping usually ends in one of two ways — buying a few random 'pretty plants' or not buying anything at all because you don't know what will look good or grow well. Read on to pick up some of our top tips to help you choose the perfect plants for your Auckland garden.

Have A Purpose

It’s always good to have a purpose in life – and the plants you choose for your garden should be no different. When you head to the garden centre have a clear purpose what you want to achieve.  Here are a few examples that might help.

  1.   Are you wanting to provide structure with hedging or main focal plants within garden beds.
  2. Are you looking for some colour?
  3. Are you wanting fragrance?
  4. Do you need to fill some space?
  5. Are you needing some ground cover to suppress weeds?
  6.  Are you looking for plants for containers & pots or for the ground?

Don't forget that you can always ask for help & advice at the garden centre.  If I don't know anyone there, I will always ask 'Who is the best person to ask about plant selection".  

Choose Plants Wisely for the Front Row

The plants at the visible edge along a walk, patio, or lawn, can make all the difference in its appearance. Low-growing plants in the front row accentuate the shape of the bed, soften harsh edges, and help draw attention to the taller plants behind.

Low-growing plants in the front row should be full, look good in a line, and not require too much care. If you view a garden bed from a distance, the height of edging plants can be relatively high—around 50cm. In beds that are viewed up close, the border plants should be lower than this.

Annuals such as alyssum make a wonderful white edging with its dense, tiny, fragrant white flowers. If cut back they will bloom all season. The perennial green lilyturf (Liriope muscari) is another of my favourites for edging beds.

Liriope muscari

liriope for front border edging

Don't Forget Fragrance

On average, a person draws 23,000 breaths a day and the scents contained in each breath convey information, mood and provoke memories in a way that nothing else can. Here are three tips for incorporating scented plants in a landscape:

  1. Place fragrant plants close to your house so you can catch a whiff of the aroma as you enter your home.
  2. Place scented plants on a sunny patio or near a north-facing wall. The reflected heat may make the scent a little stronger
  3. Plant fragrant plants in an enclosed space or small side yard. The scent will collect instead of being carried away by the breeze, so you'll be surrounded with aroma

Nothing can alter our mood as quickly as scent. This is because smell goes directly to the limbic section of the brain that controls stress levels, heart rate and blood pressure. Try a rose - both beautiful and therapeutic!

roses for fragrance

Know Your Space

If you have a space to fill, draw a quick diagram of its size to take with you.  If you know you have a garden bed 1m x 2.5m, you will need to buy plants that will fill that size.  Once you have chosen your plants, check to see how big they grow, then you can calculate how many you will need.

I know the plants might not look like they will ever grow that big, but be patient, don't waste money by planting too close together.  You will regret it in the long term when plants are jammed up against each other, looking squashed.

groundcover foliage

Flowers & Foliage

No matter how beautiful an outdoor space is, it is always the pot or plant bed full of flowers that receives the most praise. The delight that flowers bring goes beyond pretty blossoms and sweet-smelling fragrance.  The easiest way to bring flowers into the garden is seasonal potted colour, planted en masse in larger containers or at the base of feature trees.

To bring interest into your garden beds, contrast differing foliage sizes and shapes with plants that like the same conditions. Plant a combination of small-leaved groundcovers with large-leaved foliage plants. The result can be downright captivating!

Attracting Bees, Birds & Butterflies

A garden is a complex, natural world that we often overlook. While we are admiring the colour, fragrance and look of a glorious landscape, butterflies, bees, birds and more are tirelessly pollinating our plants. Global evidence suggests that pollinator populations are declining due to many factors, including habitat destruction, so please consider making your garden a haven for these amazing creatures.

Swan plants, flax, grevillea, lavender, manuka & hebe are all great choices.

Need Some More Help?

Remember, if you are stuck & need some advice on plant selection, we offer 90 minute personal garden consultations which include help with plant selection as well as...

New layouts & easy tweaks to add value & make your garden more attractive.
Creative ideas that suit your unique requirements & personal style.
A sketch of an area in your garden which you need particular help with.
Suitable plants and planting combinations that look great and complement your existing landscape.
On the spot practical advice on planting technique, plant care & health to help your garden thrive.
Access to our local wholesale suppliers to save you money rejuvenating your garden.

$250 incl. GST

Contact us HERE

Article adapted from 'PLANTING IDEAS FOR YOUR GARDEN' By Jan Johnsen


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