So you’ve been to the summer home-and-garden tours or visited a botanical garden, and fell in love with those stunning perennial beds brimming with flowers and textures. You have decided that you must have one or more of those perfect gardens. That’s great. There is nothing like seeing with your own eyes what looks good and what can grow in your own landscape, too.

Did you take notes, photos? Those are helpful to identify particular plants and shrubs, trees, etc., and give guidance for placement. What looks good with what, and what to expect of plants in terms of mature growth, foliage color and form and for floral shapes, sizes and colors — all are what constitute essential components of a successful ornamental bed or garden.

Now that you have your “ideal” in mind, and before you rush out and start buying plants, it would be a good idea to ask yourself a few questions. Recently John Fromer of Appleton Ridge Flower and Vegetable Farm spoke at Merryspring Nature Center to a crowd interested in designing a perennial garden. He suggested some questions to resolve before the first spade of soil is turned.

• First and foremost — can you manage it? All gardens require maintenance. The larger the garden, the more maintenance is needed. If a garden cannot be maintained, it is worse than useless, quickly turning an asset into a liability that could in fact end up an eyesore. What is your time schedule? Do you have plenty of time to monitor and maintain the garden of your dreams? Are you prepared to weed, water, maintain by pruning or deadheading and provide the necessary nutrients for the garden?

We’ve all seen gardens that are ignored, and it does not take long for aggressive weeds to take over and precious plants to die. It could be a loss of time, effort and money that could have been avoided. Answers to these questions will help you to determine the size of your garden. In some cases a garden isn’t the answer. A series of pots or planting containers concentrated in a prominent location for easy care might be a better choice.

• What kind of garden do you want? What is your goal for the garden? Are you looking for flowers to cut or would you like to include herbs or vegetables? Is it to be a formal, a cottage-style or maybe a woodland garden? Do you want a big floral display at a certain time of the season, or a continuous series of blooms? What are your preferred bloom colors? Is the site sunny or shaded? Answers to these questions will determine plant selections.

• Where in the landscape is the garden to be located? Do you want it to be seen from certain parts of the house, or perhaps to surround a patio or seating area? Answers to these questions will help determine the heights of plants.

• What shape is the garden to be — square, round, curved border, irregular? The answer to this question will help determine plant size selection, and can impact lawn mowing and maintenance, requiring more or less edging.

Once all the questions have been answered, it is time to bring out the photos of your dream garden and then superimpose them on photos of the place you plan to implement your own. Consider and indicate where plants are to be located. Once you’ve got your plan complete, you can begin with the ground work — literally. Turn soil, remove any turf or weeds, get a soil test — soil pH can inhibit or enhance the productivity and vigor of any garden. Add suggested amendments, along with a good amount of compost. Heavy clay soils will benefit from the addition of sand to improve drainage, while sandy soils will need loam and compost to help hold moisture.

Then let the planting begin! Late summer or early fall is a good time to establish new perennials, shrubs and trees. Remember to water regularly and as needed until the ground freezes, if there is not sufficient rainfall. Avoid fertilizing this late in the season, though a root stimulating solution used at the time of planting as directed can help your new plants get a good start.