Ask a Question forum: Advice/Help on type of Flowers and how to Arrange them

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Name: Chihaya Vedha
Owego, NY (Zone 5b)
Call Me Chi
Feb 16, 2017 1:15 PM CST
Hi everyone! I'm looking for advice on flowers to plant in our raised flowerbed (as well as a pattern/order to plant them in). We built this flowerbed during the summer of 2016 and with the snow hopefully melting soon (fingers crossed), we'd like to start planting. However, we don't know ANYTHING about flowers. My husband and I love working on projects and learning new hobbies so we built this raised flowerbed to learn masonry skills and now we will have a lifetime of beautiful flowers in front of our home, but we need help getting it started. We live in Owego, NY and according to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, I'm in Zone 5b : -15 to -10 (F).

The flowerbed is massive, go big or go home has always been our motto when we start a project, and this was no exception. The total distance is about 120 ft (about 60 feet long), about 4ft wide, and over 3 feet tall. We installed a drainage system to ensure water will drain properly. We want colorful flowers perennial and annual flowers. But we really need advice. We did months of research before building the garden AKA the Wall as neighbors have dubbed it, but the research for building it seemed to all be relatively similar. When looking up flowers, information conflicts from site to site. So I'm reaching out to all of you more experienced gardeners.

What flowers do you recommend?
Can I start growing them inside and then transplant them? When do I plant them?
This is a massive area to cover, how much will I need?
Planting in rows? Groups? We don't want to just throw stuff everywhere.

Any advice on plants and how to arrange them would be greatly apperciated.
Also, we have a video showing how we built the raised flowerbed to give an idea of just how big it is. Which I can't link (you can find it on youtube by searching ' Chihaya Massive Raised Flowerbed Project '

Thumb of 2017-02-16/chihaya/fecc8a

Thumb of 2017-02-16/chihaya/af65f3

Thumb of 2017-02-16/chihaya/6aca91

Thumb of 2017-02-16/chihaya/b5c75d

Thumb of 2017-02-16/chihaya/3be437

Thumb of 2017-02-16/chihaya/af66be

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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Rabbit Keeper Frugal Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Region: Georgia Native Plants and Wildflowers Composter Garden Sages Bookworm Vermiculture
Feb 16, 2017 2:34 PM CST
That is impressive!!! Good job. Hurray! Hurray!

My short list for now:
grape hyacinth

Something that will hang over the edge like maybe a Blue Rug Juniper or similar.

The first thing I want to say is that you should be thinking about adding plants...that will eventually make flowers. There are not too many plants that are in flower all the time. Think about plants that offer 3- or 4-season interest - something like Red Twig Dogwood and plants that offer colorful autumn foliage.

What colors do you prefer the blooms to be? Maybe start by selecting a color scheme and then research to see which plants bloom at different times of the season to hopefully have something in bloom every few weeks.

Soil preparation is all important. It's good that you considered drainage, but work on the soil while you decide on plants.

Be ready to add a few annuals from time to time to fill in as needed when the blooms are fading on the perennials.

(Not to send you off-site, but...) I follow a blog by Nan Ondra who is in Pennsylvania; her zone is a bit warmer than yours, but you can search her blog to find interesting combinations of plants that offer color, scent, winter interest, etc.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Utah Bee Lover Garden Photography Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Photo Contest Winner 2018
Feb 17, 2017 12:38 AM CST
and Holy Cow Thumbs up Smiling
Well, clearly, you succeeded in learning some masonry!
Welcome to NGA

If you hang around here long enough, eventually you will have answers to your questions and new questions needing answers Hilarious!
What fun!
I'm guessing that you had/have some kind of vision of how you want this lifetime of beautiful flowers in front of your home/ along the street to look, right? Maybe you could give us an idea of what you're after--the possibilities are a bit overwhelming initially with such a massive blank slate and limited input about your aesthetic goals.

What flowers do you recommend?
looks sunny--tons of stuff that's happy in the sun, totally depends on what you're after--color preferences, massive single colors, mixes, bold, contrasty, soft blends??? height/size considerations, thorns, fragrance, any favorite flowers? 'formal' vs 'informal', monolithic/homogeneous vs a spectrum of variety from consistent rows or symmetrical groupings all the way to a cacophonous mayhem of everchanging color that obliterates your view of the street and visa versa? water needs, will you need to irrigate and have you got a plan for that or are you looking for plants that won't need irrigation once established? edibles? herbs? ( Hilarious! I like to eat strawbs while I'm weeding them out of the flowers) are you aiming to keep the bees, butterflies, birds fed or is this principally for eye candy? do you want flowers for cutting? only flowers, what about foliage, evergreens, berries, etc., might be nice to have some stuff to look at in the winter, too? that wall is certainly big enough to have a different street view/house view--inside corner/outside corner, but maybe you want it all the same? maintenance needs, might be a consideration...looks easier to access or reach from the street side maybe--but you guys are young and able enough to just hop up in there, so probably not a big deal...

Can I start growing them inside and then transplant them? Yes! When do I plant them? depends, after the last frost of the spring, generally
This is a massive area to cover, how much will I need? lots and lots Smiling
Planting in rows? Groups? We don't want to just throw stuff everywhere.
depends, see above...

Ah, but the thing is that although your wall will be pretty much the same all the time, the plants can change--so if you try something and don't like it after a while you can try something different. That's one of my favorite things about flower gardens Sticking tongue out

Some general principles...plant shorties and stuff that spills down the wall along the edges, taller stuff in the middle (if you want taller stuff), big swaths of the same/similar color for the biggest/best viewing from afar and to attract the pollinators, so 'they' say anyway--our pollinators don't seem to have any trouble finding their way around.
Many annuals are good for blooming their fool heads off all summer and then die--so if you want to change it up every year and don't mind replanting every year, annuals put on a show. And, as greene said, annuals are great for filling in around perennials. In general, perennials take a while to become their fullest selves (~2-3years) and have a limited bloom time, but, with some forethought, mixed perennial beds can be like slow fireworks as the snow melts until it flies again and offer splendid variety.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
Feb 17, 2017 3:17 PM CST
You might look at the Random Landscape Photos on this site for some ideas. Many of them have captions for the individual plants.

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