Friday, May 18, 2007

How-to Create a Picture-Perfect Party Garden

When Debbie and Pete Rock of Chadds Ford, Pa., learned that they would be hosting this year’s Rock family reunion they were thrilled. But with out-of-town relatives, big plans for a professional family photo and just four months to prepare, they are both a little nervous about how their yard and garden will look for the event. “Since our backyard garden will serve as the backdrop for the group picture and the party, we really want to spruce up our flower beds and patios,” says Rock.

But with a limited budget, the family doesn’t have plans for a major garden overhaul. Instead, they want to enhance their existing beds and perhaps add a few more mixed container arrangements to their back deck. In desperate need of help with planning, the Rocks consult with a hobbyist garden designer recommended to them by a friend. Their hopes for the transformation: to create a picture-perfect party garden. Here’s how they plan to do it.

“Knowing that the Rocks are looking for instant impact in their existing flower beds along with accessory plants for their patio and front porch, I suggested a well-rounded mix of high-impact hydrangeas, petite-scaled clematis and an array of color-coordinated annuals,” says Jan Baun a part-time residential garden planner in Pennsylvania’s historic Brandywine Valley. Baun recommended they focus on three key outdoor areas, and came up with a list of plant material and a layout plan for each.

Heavenly Hydrangea Bed To liven-up the main flower bed that stretches across the back of the Rock’s home, Baun suggests a mass planting of Angel Star hydrangeas. “I often recommend these hydrangeas to customers who want to see lots of color,” says Baun. “Angel Star’s dramatic, hot pink blooms brighten up shady spaces. Plus this hydrangea blooms from spring through fall, giving homeowners great, low-maintenance color all season long.” Part of Hines Horticulture’s Halo Hydrangea collection, Baun says that Angel Star will fare well in the Rock’s partial shade, zone 6 garden. And because this particular breed of hydrangea only grows 3-feet high by 3-feet wide, Angel Star is perfectly proportioned for the Rock’s narrow flower bed.

Patio Perfect Baun suggests using mixed container plantings in various planter styles and sizes to dress-up the Rock’s back patio. To create a unified but relaxed look for the patio, Baun directs the Rocks to plant similar hued annuals and perennials in 18 varying sized planters arranged on their 12-by-15 foot patio. The accessory that will pull the entire look together: fresh-cut floral arrangements for the patio tables that feature the Angel Star hydrangeas and other flowers grown in the Rock’s new cutting garden.

Awe-inspiring Entrance “The Rock’s have a spectacular wraparound porch on the front of their home that they really want to take adavantage of,” says Baun. To create vertical interest, the Rocks will suspend 12 identical hanging baskets from the roof of the massive, victorian-style porch. “Because the back garden will be so eclectic, we want to keep the hanging baskets in the front of the home simple,” says Rock. “We will plant all 12 of them with Parisenne, a deep purple Patio Clematis , that is bred especially for container plantings.”

Inside Out To bring the party garden room full circle, Baun recommends that the Rocks spruce up the extra lawn furniture that they had been storing away in their basement with new paint and outdoor cushions. Once restored to new form, the furniture will be strategically placed throughout the backyard to create wall-less rooms that function perfectly for comfortable outdoor entertaining. For more information about the plants mentioned above, please visit

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