‘Very effective’: ‘Essential’ garden design tips for beginners – how to combine plants

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For those new to gardening, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to creating a design for the garden. Adding different coloured flowers to a garden can really create a sense of depth and style. Fortunately, Gardening experts at BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine have explained how to combine plants to make garden borders look their very best throughout the year. This includes how to put plants together in terms of height, colour and winter interest, particularly evergreen structure.

The gardening experts have created a choice of planting combinations

Combining different flower types

Different flower shapes can be grown together to bring depth to a planting scheme, while sticking to two or three bold colours ties the scheme together.

They said: “Combining plants effectively is an essential part of the garden design process. 

“By considering various attributes – plant type, size and habit; foliage shape; flower colour; season of interest – it’s possible to create a harmonious, unified planting scheme. 

“Contrasting, complementary and even, sometimes, clashing colours can all be harnessed to achieve particular effects.”

The variety of flower heights and shapes create depth and interest, while different shades create a unified feel.

Using shades of the same colour

Different shades of the same colour can be used to dramatic effect. 

For example, bright orange geum ‘tangerine Dream’ would be perfect to grow alongside apricot-pink blooms of Verbascum.

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Ornamental grasses act as a foil for both colours, while pink astrantia offers a contrasting colour, which underlines the unity of the others.

Using foliage to bring out flowers

Plants with dark foliage can be used to bring out similarly coloured flowers, while ornamental grasses can soften a planting scheme. 

It offers structure and interesting textures to a garden.

For example, the foliage of dark plants would bring out brightly coloured plants, while lighter ones would soften the scheme.

Planting flowers of one colour

Flowers in a garden do not always need to be different colours.

The experts said: “Using one colour can be very effective, especially when using different flower shapes and heights.”

An example of this would be using white plants to bring a cool elegance and beauty to the border.

This would perfectly bring out the fresh green of the foliage.

Using styles and colour to create depth

Mixing formal and informal planting can create a stylish, contemporary feel.

Close shades of the same or different plants can work well. 

A combination of dark and light plants brings greater depth and variety than would be achieved with just one variety. 

This technique can help to make small gardens appear bigger.

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