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Aspect in Garden Design

“can we speak in flowers.It will be easier for me to understand.”

Nayyirah Waheed

January is the time for garden planning. 📚

As you are contemplating new beds and borders, remember that the way to get the most sun for your plants – if sun is what you are after – is to run them east to west. Put the shortest plants in front of your garden so as not to clock what is growing in back of them.

Meanwhile, if you want your taller plants to provide shade for adjacent plants, plant them north to south. The sun will shine east to west and as it moves over your garden, the taller crop will provide a degree of protection – at least for half the day.

🤔 What you are working with above is a concept called “aspect.”

A garden’s aspect is one of the first things I do when I’m working on new garden designs. If you ignore it, you will struggle to find the correct plants, choose the best seating areas, plan paths that aren’t for example shady, damp and slippy.

When designing and planting, you can accommodate virtually any aspect if you understand it.

☀️ South facing gardens

  • Receive more sunlight and are usually brighter.
  • Tend to be hotter and warm up earlier in the season.
  • May require more watering as they tend to have drier soils.
  • Can require more planning for shady seating areas they can get super warm!
  • A Sampling of Plants for a South Facing Garden:
    • Echinacea
    • Asteraceae family
    • Lillies
    • Iris
    • Erysimum cheiri
    • Eryngium
    • Salvia
    • Verbascum

☁️ North facing gardens

  • Receive less sunlight or dappled shade which will affect planting choices.
  • Tend to be cooler and only warm up later in the season.
  • Has fewer high and low extremes of temperature.
  • Longer gardens may be less affected as they could get light pockets at the far end
  • A Sampling of Plants for a North Facing Garden:
    • Hostas
    • Ferns
    • Dicentra
    • Vinca major
    • Viburnum
    • Erythronium
    • Begonia
    • Primula vulgaris
    • Aquilegia vulgaris

⛅️ East and West Facing Garden Plants

  • It’s not quite as critical as you are going to get a mix of light and shade.
  • Choose plants carefully for parts of the garden that feature more heavily in the shade or full sun.
  • Don’t forget also that any structures will create shade even in a South facing garden.
  • East facing gardens:
    • Will receive more sunlight in the morning, perfect for breakfast on the patio!
    • Will be darker in the afternoon and evening.
    • Include garden lighting in your design, maybe a fire pit if you’re a night owl that wants to entertain in the evening
  • West facing gardens:
    • Will receive more sunlight in the afternoon and evening. Perfect place for a “man cave or she-shack.”
    • Will be darker in the morning, with shade nearest the house.

Photo: My Blueberry, Comfrey, and Echinacea Southeastern Bed

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