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How To Prepare and Plant A Flower Bed

I love both flowering plants and cut flowers – seeing them in the garden or in a vase in the house makes my little heart patter in a very good way.  My garden is full of succulents, bromeliads and plants from the Mediterranean and Australia.  It certainly is not a riot of color but the interest from foliage, form and texture sure is there.  I have a few pots planted with annuals here and there and always have a vase or two of flowers inside thanks to our farmers market.  I would have been a great flower child in the 60’s.

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 The “Walkway Bed” before it’s prep & planting

 I go up to Pacifica (just south of San Francisco) twice a year to do annual color changes in a garden I’ve worked on for many years.   Yippee … this scratches my itch for shopping for blooming plants.  A trip to nurseries buying flowers is one of the most fun ways I can think of to spend an afternoon or 2.    In mid May I jam packed my car with plants, leaving just enough room to see out the mirrors, and headed north for the 5 hour drive.   Below, I layout the steps I take  to preparing and planting a bed.   And, be sure to check out the video How To Prepare And Plant A Flower Bed  shot in this same garden at the end of this post.

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Most of the pansies & bulbs have already been removed from this bed.  

Steps To Planting

I plan out how many plants I will need according to how wide each one grows.  Because I am planting annuals in these beds, they will grow fast.

The unwanted perennials, annuals from the previous season & weeds get removed.

Perennials to remain get divided & moved to other beds.  The remaining perennials & roses get pruned & cleaned up.

The soil gets turned over & then smoothed out to fill in the spaces were plants have been dug out.  When planting annuals, I don’t get too crazy with the digging because they don’t root too deep.

The plants are laid out.  I like to plant in blocks of color – it’s more restful on the eyes.  The walkway bed is done in shades of pink & rose while the fairy bed is done in reds.  Both are accented & tied together with accents of blue lobelia.

In this location, the pocket gophers are plentiful.   “Baskets” are made from chicken wire to fit  the root ball size.  

Holes are dug & the planting begins.  I believe in enriching the soil with composts only but when it comes to annuals, I use fertilizer too.  The blend we use is 2 parts rose & flower food, 1 part alfalfa meal & 1 part  composted chicken manure  – all organic of course.  We use a tablespoon or 2 per plant depending on the root size.   At home I plant with worm compost but this garden has an abundance of worms so I skip it here.

The soil is smoothed out again & the drip irrigation tubes adjusted if necessary.  

2”  of compost is spread on top.  This is a natural way to feed plants & conserve moisture.  In this garden, it also hides the irrigation tubes.

The garden art is put back in.

The new plants are watered before they’re planted (if needed) & then again after planting.

The growing begins & a colorful masterpiece will evolve.

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A few bulbs remain – weeds & volunteers are taken out also.   

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Some of the perennials which are not doing well get taken out.  The others get a pruning if needed.  

This cleans things up so you can really visualize the layout.

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This Alstroemeria is one of the “pretties” which remain.

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The 3 roses in this bed are thinned out & shaped at this time – it’s easier done before the annuals have all grown in.

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The 2 pictures above show some of what will be planted in theses beds – impatiens, new guinea impatiens and lobelia in 6 pak, 4″ & gallons.

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The finished walkway bed – now grow!

Flower beds require a little extra prep and care but it’s well worth it.  Who doesn’t want to add a little color to their summer world?

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