Designing Groups of Beds
When creating groupings of flower beds, it is important to make sure the harmonize with one another. A good rule to follow is to make sure the sides of the adjacent beds are parallel with one another, and there are equal width strips throughout the length.
The strip should not be too narrow, for practical and mowing considerations. It should not be less than 18 inches. With flower beds set in gravel, the width between becomes a pathway, and therefore can be fixed at two feet.
There are no limits regarding the size of the bed or the components of the group. You can have a square bed that measures two feet each way, or the beds may be brought into scale with their surroundings. Usually it is not recommended to make a bed that is greater than a 12 foot diameter.
When creating groups of beds, it is best to have a central component that remains dominate through each group. Having too great of disparity in size is not desirable. If you are making a series of groups, say along a grass border, the design should not be repeated indefinitely. Repetition should be done at intervals, with other designs in between. The same rule applies to a series of single beds, although monotony is not as evident when the form is a simple one.
A series of rectangular beds, for example, that border a long straight stretch of grass, may seem inoffensive, but even in that case, it is better to break that line at an equal distance by creating wider intervals between the beds every third or fourth bed. This is still a simple grouping but creates a better look than a regular grouping like that of cars on a freight train.
Always take into consideration the maintenance involved in the shapes of the beds you desire. This should make the gardener wary when considering figures that are not geometric. With rectangular beds trimming is easier, as it is a straight line and creates a guide for the trimmer. A circle, also creates an easy to follow guide. The “fancy” shapes can be difficult to maintain, as there is no guide, and the eye alone judges the shape.
There are different opinions regarding the use of camber in the surface of the soil. Some examples prefer to keep the surface flat, while others tend to heap it up until the bed resembles a gigantic pincushion. A happy medium should be found. Camber can be useful for throwing off the water during heavy showers, and it improves the appearance of the flowers, particularly when they are all of a height, as in bedding practice.
Too much camber can drain off the moisture from the crown of the bed. Beds in gravel, if edged with box, are better kept flat on the surface so the moisture that gravitates to their margins will not carry soil out upon the gravel surface.