When designing gardens, how do you choose which flowers go where in flower gardens? According to Hilary Thomas in The Complete Planting Design Course, when choosing the type and location of flowers, “it is the overall form of the plant” or the form of the individual flowers that is important.
In his book Designing with Plants, Piet Oudolf write that the common plant forms of flowers are
- Spires and Spikes: These flowers ascend to form a columnar shape. Spires and spikes look best planted in groups, probably near the back of the flower garden. Note that if the flower garden can be seen from both sides, then the taller flowers may look best in the middle.
- Buttons and Spheres: Flowers that have buttons and spheres create clusters of color that look great in groupings in the middle of flower gardens.
- Plumes: Some flowers grow dainty-looking and soft “clouds” of color. They provide nice transitions between two stronger flower groupings.
- Daisy-Like Flower Heads: These flowers grow on tightly packed stems, creating a mass of color. They can provide a sea of color in the middle of flower gardens and can also provide a transition between two other flower plant forms.
- Screens and Curtains: Some flowers grow wide apart from each other on the stems, so they allow us to see through the plant. Therefore, we can plant these flower forms intermittently in the front and middle of flower gardens even though they can grow quite tall.
- Umbels: These flowers grow on tall stems and form a dome shape. They are good for the background in flower gardens.
Keep in mind that the look of flowering plants changes over the seasons. So also keep that in mind when designing gardens to look interesting throughout the year.
After considering the plant form, then use the plant color and foliage texture as the next deciding factors.