Plants for a new flower bed

(Question)

Hi, I am a volunteer at a community organization in Toronto and we are looking into creating a small flower bed on the property. I was just wondering what types of flowers, or other plants you could recommend that we can garden? We need plants/flowers that can be easily maintained in an area that gets sun, but is still in the shade as well. The area we are looking to use is currently just grass with a few weeds. Thanks. And please let me know if you need more information.

(Answer)

Well it is absolutely wonderful that you want to put in a flower garden. Gardening can provide joy on so many levels. The first things you need to do when considering the addition of a new garden is to consider the site where the garden will be located. You have mentioned that it is part sun and part shade, which is important to know when selecting the plant material. You will also need to know what kind of soil you will be dealing with. Once you lift up the grass growing there, you will need to find out if the soil is sandy, clay-like or loamy. This information will tell you whether and how you need to amend the soil to provide the best growing environment for whatever plant material you will select. You will want to add some compost, triple mix and/or top soil to prepare the bed before planting.  An important adage in gardening is to “Feed the soil, not the plant”.

 

After that it you have the option of planting perennials or annuals. Perennials are plants that, once planted, come back each year but may take a little time to get established and flower regularly. Annuals are one-season plants, that will flower for the entire summer, and possibly fall, but will then die  with the first frost at the end of the good weather. Some of this is preference; some may depend on your budget. Perennials are a good long-term solution but the plants can be pricey. Annuals, while cheaper, need to be purchased each year. Given that water is so precious you may also want consider drought tolerant plants for your garden as they can stand up to our often dry summers.

 

Another consideration is how much time people will spend maintaining the garden. Some plants have less care requirements and are drought tolerant like Rudbeckia (Daisy like flowers) while roses require regular tending. Here are some Garden Guides prepared by Toronto Master Gardeners that may help in your selection:

https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/drought-tolerant-perennials-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/perennials-for-full-sun-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/perennials-for-shade-in-dry-or-moist-areas-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Here is another site that make suggestions for choosing plant material and low maintenance selections:

https://www.rd.com/home/gardening/choosing-plants-for-your-garden/

Once you have done some research and established a budget, a trip to a local reputable nursery may be the best way to decide on what you want to plant.

I hope that your garden provides hours of pleasure for all involved.