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Six Garden Planting Tips

Create beds in unusual shapes

Instead of making rectangles or squares, follow the curves of the landscape. Create a circle, carving it into wedges. Or design a star.

Be creative with paths

Put down weed cloth, then cover it with wood chips or salt hay for a rustic feel. I chose pea gravel in ivory and tan because it drains well and the light color accents the dark hues of the foliage.

Juxtapose colors and textures

Instead of doing something as plain as planting seeds in alphabetical order, I put the tangled bunches of pale-green tomatillos next to Red Velvet okra, with its tall ruby stems and scarlet-throated yellow blossoms.

Vary height

Placing tall plants (such as corn, Brussels sprouts and Aztec Red spinach, which can grow to more than five feet) in the middle of a bed gives the garden an architectural shape. Plants with trailing vines, such as yellow and green Anellino beans and crimson-stemmed Malabar spinach, can climb up trellises and tuteurs to create topiaries.

Plant flowers

Edible flowers (like nasturtiums and violets) and flowering vegetables (such as broccoli, arugula and okra) add color and visual punch.

Include exotic species

Tropical and Asian varieties are not only delicious and beautiful but able to stand up to the heat when other plants are expiring. Some favorites are Giant Red mustard, whose purple-tinged leaves have a pleasing bite, and Joseph’s Coat amaranths, a tropical spinach with magenta and acid-yellow leaves.

Published August 2001
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