Do you love colour?

Do you love colour? Then build a flower bed!

Magazine

A colourful flower bed is one of the most exciting things you can have in your garden. There are so many possibilities that you can really give your creativity free reign. Here are some things to consider, but at the end of the day, your imagination is the limit!

Plan your flower bed

The first step to any great creation is planning. It may help to make a sketch of your garden, including any permanent objects like buildings, sheds or trees. Next, outline any areas you are considering for a flower bed. Then, over the course of a day with fairly average weather for your region, make a note of how many hours’ sunlight different areas get each day.

Categorise them as follows:

  • Full sun (6 or more hours of sun per day)
  • Partial sun/partial shade (3-6 hours)
  • Dappled sun (such as the light found under large deciduous trees)
  • Full shade (less than 3 hours of sun per day)

A lot of flowers prefer full sun, so this could be the best choice if it’s available. Full sun in the morning and early afternoon is ideal, as flowers can benefit from maximum sunlight before the sun gets too hot. Although full shade isn’t ideal, partial or dappled shade still offer plenty of options.

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Choose

Choosing flowers is one of the most fun parts of starting a flower bed. Here are some ideas for each sunlight category.

  • Golden sunflowers and vivid purple sage thrive in full sun, as do tulips, which are available in pretty much every colour imaginable. Sweet peas are also breath-taking in blues, purples, pinks and whites, while marigolds, amaranth and zinnias are other great options. Full sun is also ideal for growing fragrant roses.
  • For a flower bed in partial sun, uniquely-shaped pansies come in a wide variety of colours, and can be complemented by delicate violets. Cheerful yellow daffodils are great for spring, while daisy-like asters offer a splash of colour in autumn. Pretty peonies have dense blooms that look like crinkly roses, while delphinium has tall cone-like flowers which can turn your flower bed into a sea of blue and purple.
  • If you’re planting in shade or dappled sunlight, there are some lovely woodland flowers like snowdrops, bluebells and wood anemones that thrive in these conditions. You can also try bright, beautiful, Grecian windflowers (above) which come in a range of fantastic colours.

In addition to sun requirements, check whether any flowers you are considering are sensitive to soil acidity. If they are, pick up a pH testing kit from a garden centre to see whether your soil is suitable.

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Prepare

  • Begin by marking the boundaries to your flower bed using stones, wood, or any other materials. Adding a layer of mulch around plants will highlight edges as well as keeping moisture in and weeds at bay.
  • Remove grass from the area, either using a flat shovel, or by laying down wet newspaper or cardboard and waiting for the grass underneath to die off. If you go for this option, be prepared to wait until the next season before planting.
  • Remove large stones and other debris.
  • Mix in some good quality compost to improve soil drainage and add nutrients.
  • Test soil drainage by watering thoroughly and leaving overnight. If the soil is still really wet and sloppy the next day, it’s a sign of bad drainage. In this case, try adding more compost and test again.

If the soil still isn’t draining properly you may have to consider other options. You can build a raised bed within a wooden frame, but an easier option is just to use planters and containers. These look great and are easier to maintain than a traditional flower bed.

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Plant

When planting time finally comes around:

  • Follow the instructions on seed packets about when and where to sow flowers.
  • If you’re impatient, you can buy established plants from the garden centre!
  • Consider the full size of plants. Give them plenty of space and plant in such a way that smaller plants will get enough sun and won’t be blocked from view.

Maintain

  • Watering can be tricky, but it’s important to get it right. Too much or too little water can be disastrous for flowers, so keep an eye on soil moisture levels at all times.
  • If you don’t have time to water flower beds regularly, consider an automatically controlled irrigation system.
    The GARDENA Micro-Drip-System, for example, allows you to determine exactly how much water your plants get when.
  • Use mulch between plants to keep weeding to a minimum.

If this is the first time you’ve created a flower bed, you’re in for a wonderful experience once you see your chosen blooms in full glory. Plant for different seasons to enjoy a glorious display all year round.