Garden Plan, Garden Map or Garden Photos?

I tried to make a garden plan when I spread the soil in fall 2006 to create the outer gardens. I researched and researched the right plants for full sun, zone 7 that are deer resistant. I made list after list of perennials, shrubs, bulbs and grasses. I drew plan after plan.

What happened next? All those "perfect plants" were not available. I went to several nurseries and even ordered a few plants online. I had to make substitutions to my grand plan. By grand, I mean "large" spaces to fill.

The outer garden shown on my plan above (click to enlarge) is one section of garden that is in front of the cottage garden. This section is over 46 feet wide and 15 feet deep. It doesn't even include the side areas of the front garden just because it would be unreadable to put in more information and reduce the scale to fit a page. I doubt my measurements are exact anywhere in my drawing. I don't take a tape measure into the garden when I plant. So, my garden plan is not to scale.

This section of deer resistant garden is on a slope, too. At the top is a meadow. At the bottom is a rain garden. It's hard to draw a slope on a flat piece of paper and I'm not into the topographical elements of fine drawing. I didn't draw in the curves of the garden, so I have straight lines on this plan where there really aren't any straight lines.

My garden plan wasn't a plan for very long. Not only did I have to make substitutions, but in making substitutions, my vignettes no longer worked very well. I had to substitute new vignettes.

I planted most of this garden in 2007. The drought arrived and some of the plants didn't survive. Winter arrived and some of the plants didn't survive. My plan was starting to look less and less like a plan, so I began making corrections to it after I planted the replacements.

The deer and rabbits ate some of the deer resistant plants in my original plan, too. I've had to adjust my plans accordingly.

My garden plan, drawn in fall of 2006, morphed into more of a garden map in the fall of 2008. With a few little plans thrown in!

What you see in the drawing is now a map of existing plants with a few plans included. I have included plans for reseeding annuals of cleome and verbena bonariensis.

I sowed larkspur, but I didn't plan where, so those are just scattered somewhere around the same places as cleome and verbena. Since those have emerged, I need to update my plan-map.

For sowing in the spring, I also have nicotiana and zinnia seeds. I haven't decided where those will go, even though I bought the seeds. Seed packets are one of my weaknesses. I love the pretty pictures on the packets, so I tend to impulse buy based on the pretty pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I started playing around with using photos to document my vignettes.

The updated, drawn plan-map doesn't include my spring bulbs. Without seeing the spring bulbs, I couldn't add those to the updated map this fall.

I've forgotten exactly where the bulbs are located, although the Dutch irises are starting to reveal their locations. As my spring bulbs emerge, I'm going to add those to my plan-map. If I'm diligent and don't forget. Perhaps I'll just take a photo instead.

After all this planning and mapping, I know that I've still forgotten some of the plants. I can already see that I don't have all of the echinops on the map and I haven't divided the stachys to put on the other side of the blue buddleia. I completely forgot to add several ornamental grasses and sedges.

Is this as good as it will get for documenting the plants in my deer resistant garden? There are plants to be divided and seeds to be sown and bulbs to emerge in the spring. Will I draw those adjustments on my map?

I'm beginning to think that photos, taken of each vignette as well as long views from different angles, are worth a thousand efforts at documenting flowers in the garden. The photos succeed where my memory fails!

Photos and story by Freda Cameron



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