Mixing It Up with Flowers The Basics

Flowers are diverse, resilient, and compatible with one another. You can mix them up any way you like, and as long as you give them their basic food, soil, water, and sun requirements, you can reasonably expect loads of blooms or attractive foliage. Even if a plant dies or gets eaten by bugs, it usually costs little to replace. In the case of annuals, which live only for the summer anyway, you can always try again next year.

Promoting diversity in any garden and landscape is a crucial part of organic gardening, and nowhere is it easier than in the flower garden. Except for large formal plantings or commercial-cut flower fields, most gardeners grow only a few plants of each flower species or variety and tend to mix them up in their gardens. Here are a few good reasons to continue that practice:

  • Beneficial insects and other organisms, which fight harmful pests and diseases, thrive in diverse environments.
  • Season-long color is easier to manage when you plant perennials, annuals, and bulbs that bloom at different times throughout the spring, summer, and fall. You can mix and match color schemes, too.
  • You can save garden space by planting ornamental vegetables and herbs in your flower beds or by planting flowers in your vegetable or herb garden. You can plant bulbs right under the root zones of annuals and perennials to extend the season of color.
  • You can fool pests by planting only a few plants of each species in spots around the garden or landscape. The critters may find some — but not all — of your zinnias or lilies!

Before you fill out the catalog order form or head out to the garden center to buy every flower that tickles your fancy, take time to plan your garden for success and prepare your soil, as the following sections explain. (For more info on garden planning and soil preparation, go to Chapters 3 and 5, respectively.)

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