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Blog: Are Flowers Overrated?

'I want color' is not the same as 'I need a lot of flowers.'

Oh jeez, did I write that out loud? What I meant was, does the average gardener rely too heavily on flowers for their garden's color?

I know what you're thinking ... what else is there? Well, I'm glad you asked. There isn't a shrub or a flower that will bloom all year and provide the color that we demand. And boy would it be tired if it did! This is why I advocate and lean on texture, variation and shape to provide the foundation, support and bulk of my designs.

Don't misunderstand me ... flowers rock. They are the toys in the garden. But, too many toys and not enough substance makes for too much maintenance and unnecessary expense. And honestly ... 10 flats of white impatients is just plain boring!

You need round leaves, spear-shaped, lobed and ferny fronds to provide all the necessary elements that make the flowers secondary. Think of it this way, if the flower faded, would the design hold up? Would a variegated leaf, a burgundy spike, or a chartreuse floret provide enough diversion that you might not even notice the lack of a petal?

I try to maintain a 2-1 ratio in my designs; green to color. It's also important for my clients and my own yard, that I include "playgrounds."

Whether it's a bed, a box or a pot—it's a spot dedicated completely to annuals. The understanding that this area will be traded out twice a year. The flowers are expected to perform their job as an annual ... non-stop color for three to four months.

With this in mind, start to notice what holds your attention. Other than a spectacular ranunculus or romantic rose, what keeps you looking? What is providing the support? Ask me! I'll tell you all my secrets! (well, a few).

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Kathryn Brigante March 12, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Great article Joni !
Joni Holland March 12, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Thanks Kathy. That means so much to me coming from you. And for those for might still not know, Kathy Brigante does a fabulous job of managing Green Thumb Nursery. She brings 30+ years of knowledge and experience to the quaintest little shop in Los Gatos. Our relationship has been a long and valuable one to me!
Sandra Caswell March 12, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Nice article Joni! I totally agree with you that there is so much more to plant in your gardens than those sweet pretty flowers, but we still love them don't we!
Kim Ratcliff March 12, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Oooh I love when you spill your secrets, Joni! Thanks for sharing this great, practical advice with a fun flair.
Joni Holland March 13, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Sandy, I do have to admit that I have a lone red iceland poppy in the grower's 4" plastic pot sitting on my porch. I have no plans for it, other than to look at it. It makes me smile!
Joni Holland March 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM
You are most welcome Kim. Am anxiously awaiting your latest creation!
Dominique Lala March 14, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Joni ,great !!very well put.
Joni Holland March 16, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Thanks for checking in Vikki. Actually, interior bowls are the easiest because you're probably not going to 'grow' them long term. So sky's the limit! Please stop by when I'm here ( Thursday- Saturday). I'd love to help you!!!

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