The last part of step four in our theme garden design process is choosing plant materials!  First a quick review of the five steps:

1. Pick a theme 
2. Brainstorm
3. Research 
4. Translate ideas to physical form (yes, we're still here, but almost done!)
5. Create the plan

This is my favorite part...adding life to the garden.

Planting design is a special skill that should be tweaked over time. As you start, jump in, explore, move plants around, and always continue to tweak.  I'll talk about this more in a future post, but always consider the form, texture and color of plants (in that order).  Planting design is definitely a science and an art, but please don't let inexperience stop you from experimenting.  That's the best way to learn.

There are thousands of plants.  Having a theme and understanding your site will help whittle down your choices.  Please always consider your zone, whether the site is shady, sunny, wet or dry, plus soil quality.  

To choose plants that reflect your theme think about:

1. Were there any specific plants actually mentioned in our brainstorming and research lists?  There were not any mentioned in our lists, but someone did point out later that roses are often used as a symbol for heavy metal bands.

2.  Where there any shapes mentioned that could be reflected in plant materials?  We had circles, rectangles, and v-shapes. Are there plants with these strong shapes?

3. Choose plants based on our color palette.  Our color choices were black, gray and yellow (with possible punches of yellow and orange).  This is often the easiest plant path to follow.   

4. Choose plants that have cultivar names that reflect our theme.  In our case someone suggested Panicum virgatum 'heavy metal' (an ornamental grass) and Allium 'hair' (love it!).

I focused mostly on #3 and #4, plus #1 when making my partial list below.  I have a lot of yellow and gray plants, plus threw in some theme names....like moonshine, knock-out and thriller (from those big heavy metal after-parties).  I also considered textures, height, form, and bloom times.  I won't go into depth on planting design right now....that's a whole other series of posts.  

Below are just some plants that we can use for our heavy metal garden (mine is a sunny location).  There are many more possibilities, but I hope this will give you a good overview of how to start your own plant list.

Wow!  We finally finished step four!  Now onto the final step...create the plan!  I'm going back to the drawing board to whip up a design and will be back with you soon!

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