classic garden design question

I have some small garden areas and am trying to figure out different ways of planting traditional borders using victorian and arts and crafts period styles as guides in terms of what to plant. In one area, I've got Gertrude Jekyll style drifts in specific color schemes, in another I've got all kinds of colors planted and different plants are more spread out willy nilly in a more natural arrangement. I'm still not satisfied with the looks I'm getting, both still look kind of random, not organized (the drift garden) or kind of spindly and messy (cottage style garden). It may just be that some of the perennials haven't had time to mature but I'm looking to improve things.
I'm curious about what other people have tried with planting arrangements, are there books or magazines that you've used for ideas about planting combos? Any tips for combinations or arrangments that you've found successful?
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mm wrote: I'm still

I wanted that casual English country garden look in my garden which I started 3 years ago. This is the first year when the perennials have grown large enough to look right, and they have exceeded my expectations.
But that brings up an important point--quite a few of the perennials had a huge growth spurt this year and ended up are MUCH taller and wider than I expected. Some are larger than the tags claimed they'd be. This makes a huge difference in how it looks, and a couple had to be yanked because they were blocking the view. Fortunately, I was able to get them growing elsewhere.
What will be successful depends on your soil, water and light conditions. I'm learning what will grown in my garden, and because I have trees casting moving dappled shade on the whole border, it isn't easy. There are things that will grow beautifully in one spot that won't do anything two feet away!
--Jenny
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