Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
April, 2001
Regional Report

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Spacing plants in our region a little closer than recommended will lead to a lush, full garden.

Creating a Cottage Garden Look

Growing gardens in the inland Northwest can be challenging. Besides wind, cold springs, and scorching summers, we've got a short growing season. I'm often inspired by the lush look of cottage gardens in magazines, but when I've seen cottage gardens in our region, many look thin and underplanted. My solution is to forget traditional spacing and planting recommendations and experiment.

Plant Closer

Most annual and perennial plants come with planting recommendations for sun and shade exposure, water and fertilizer, and spacing. Most of those general recommendations are fine for our region, except for spacing. When I plant flowers in the garden, I cut the spacing in half for annuals and almost that much for perennials. When I plant in baskets and planters, I put flowers elbow to elbow right from the start.

Spaced to Look Good

My foxglove plant provides a good example of proper spacing for our region. The tag says I should plant foxgloves about 18 inches apart. Last year my foxgloves produced a full skirt of leaves about 10 to 12 inches wide. So to give each a full look in the perennial patch, this year's plants will be spaced 10 inches apart. At that spacing they'll shade the soil, conserve water, and prevent weeds from germinating. Some perennials, such as foxgloves, freely produce seedlings, which can quickly become overcrowded. Even though I'll thin the seedlings in spring, I'll keep the tighter spacing in mind so I can enjoy the full look of my garden.

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