Answer: It is difficult to know when or how to start so perhaps the best approach is to do a little reading so you have a background on what plants require in terms of growing conditions, the importance of preparing the soil prior to planting, and gleaning a few ideas about what grows best in your gardening region. Two books I would suggest as being straightforward and genuinely helpful are "Gardening for Dummies" by Michael MacCaskey (ISBN 1-56884-644-4) and "Perennials for Dummies" by Marcia Tatroe (ISBN 0-7645-5030-6). These both include information about site evaluation, soil preparation, plant selection and ongoing maintenance as well as sample plans. Another book I particularly like is "Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials" by Ellen Phillips and C. Colston Burrell (ISBN 0-87596-570-9). There are lots and lots of publications at the University of Virginia cooperative extension and even helpful agents and Master Gardeners available there as well so you can have a sit down conversation and go over each of your questions. In the meantime, sketch out your ideal garden on paper and visit lots of nurseries and garden centers to take notes on the plants that especially appeal to you so you can include them in your landscape. Start with just one area of the landscape and work your way through the entire yard, sketching your dream garden. Best wishes with the process and I hope you enjoy your garden!
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