Here’s a tip for designing the best flower gardens: don’t forget to consider a blossom’s size and shape. Most people focus on color first, and although this is important, it’s equally valuable to put remember to include differing sizes and shapes of flowers.

To show what I mean, here’s a shot of my Annual Alley from a previous year when I neglected to follow this advice.

Here's an example of what NOT to do.

Here’s an example of what NOT to do.

That particular year I wanted to plant Annual Alley with a theme of “Fireworks.” I used the King Tut Papyrus for the green explosions overhead, and Bright Lights Cosmos plus Fireworks Gomphrena because of their names and bright colors. Since I wanted a dash of yellow on plants that would be about the same height as the Cosmos and Gomphrena, I grew Francis Hoffman’s Choice marigolds as the final ingredient for this bed.

In other words, I considered flower color and height of the plants, but I failed to think about the size and shape of the blooms. Big mistake.

Although this bed was pretty, it ended up being kind of a blur. The flowers were all round and pretty much the same size. Unlike fireworks that stand out against a dark sky, these are melded together looking more like a polka dotted green fabric than a dramatic display. If I had this particular theme to do differently, I’d have included some large Zinnias and perhaps some tall red Salvia.

Lesson learned! I’m planning this year’s Annual Alley and I’ll be sure to think about flower color, size and shape as well the ultimate size of the plants when I’m designing this bed.

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