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How to start a flower garden

FLOWERS are one of nature's beauties that inspire creativity, thought flow, and romance. A flower garden is a wonderful place for leisure and play, but it takes a lot of hard work to get it in place first. A flower garden enhances your outdoor surroundings. It can also provide you with cut flowers and attract pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and birds, to your garden.

When designing a flower garden, there are five main things to consider: size and shape, symmetry and balance, and a focal point.

Flower gardens are extremely wonderful to look at. More so if you are the one who is taking care of the flower garden - it will truly be one relaxing experience to see all your hard work in full bloom.

* Steps

1. Start small. Enthusiasm for gardening is great, but can rapidly dry up when the work mounts. Start with a small flower bed, say 2.3 sq meters, which is room for around 20 to 30 plants. You can always increase you plantings as your experience grows. If even a 2.3 sq meters plot seems like too much, make a small border or do your first flower gardening in a container. Two or three plants sharing a fancy container can look stunning and give you a sample of what's to come.

2. Make a detailed landscaping plan and dig a flower bed to fit that scheme, if you want. On the other hand, if you are no good at planning on paper, or you know about where and how large you would like the bed, simply lay it out right there in your garden. Laying a garden hose on the ground is one way to mark or plan a gentle curve. If you have a lawn adjoining the bed you are digging, remember to leave yourself mower access.

3. Choose a site. How much sun an area gets is a prime consideration.

Six hours of sunlight will do for the greatest variety of plants. Stay away from underground utility lines and allow at least one meter from a building or fence. In hot climates, it is best to have some shade from the relentless afternoon sun, so a flower bed to the east of a building or fence usually works best. You can grow a garden even if you get 12 hours of full sunlight, but you should be more careful about which flowers you choose to grow. Pick ones that love full exposure to the sun. Your garden will also need more frequent watering.

4. Choose a site with good soil, if possible. All soils can be improved, but avoid areas with shallow, rocky soil, areas where water stands, or steep slopes. Stay at least six meter away from a large tree or five feet away from a sizable bush. Trees will compete with your garden for water and nutrients. Get a soil test. While not strictly required, a soil test will help to determine what nutrients the soil requires and will tell you the fertilisers the soil needs as well as its pH. Your local agriculture department can help.

5. Start digging. Once you locate a site and mark out the boundaries with a water hose, remove all sod and pieces of grass or weeds that may resprout. Using a spade or garden fork, completely dig up the bed to at least eight inches deep, a foot deep is better. Remove rocks or any debris.

6. Level the bed and break up any clods with a rake. Add three centimetres of compost or manure, more if the soil is poor. If the soil is sandy, add peat moss or grass cuttings to improve the soil's water holding capacity. Add lime if the soil is too acid. Most plants like neutral to slightly acid soil. Soil amendments such as compost can be bought by the bag or sometimes by the truckload. Work the amendments into the top 15 centimetres of soil along with a general-purpose fertiliser such as 10-20-10.

7. Buy the plants or seeds then plant according to their directions. Smaller plants go in the front of the bed. Most plants are planted at the same depth they were growing. Firm the soil around them. Remember when placing plants that they will grow, so start with extra space and read the labels carefully to see how much space to leave them.

8. Water thoroughly. Like a good waiter, a good gardener will check whether water is required before watering. How much you water will depend upon the needs of your plants, the climate and exposure, and how much rain your yard gets.

9. Cut spent blooms periodically. Many plants will re-bloom, but only if the old blooms are cut. Also, support and prune your plants as necessary.

TIPS

Grow beautiful and healthy flowers

No garden is complete without flowers. A lawn and trees are beautiful in itself but to enhance this beauty you need to add colour, textures and dimension to the picture.

Like a painting, dabs of colour enhance the central point, completing the whole picture.

* Fill the beds with a few shrubs as background to the dubs of colour you will create with the flowers.

* Arrange either colours in clusters of flowers in groups or spaced out. Plan your space according to the height and width of the plants, allowing space for each plant to grow and flourish.

* Check your seed packets or instructions on your seedling from your nursery, positioning the tall towards the back of the beds, mediums will be the ones in between tall and short.

* Colour can be in groups. For instance you can have a blue group, with various shades of blue clustered in a group, at another corner, a group of yellows, etc., don't use too many colours.

* Mixing flowers of different kinds in the same bed is good. However, make sure not to overdo the colour bit. Maintaining harmony and not being too loud is important.
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