Archives > January 2016

Planning is Key to a Successful Garden

In these ground hog days of winter, planning a garden thoroughly, whether it is to revive an old garden or create a new one, helps diminish mistakes in the spring and lowers stress levels.  Having a plan will also help you save money. The advantage to doing the planning now is that there is no rush.  You can take your sweet time researching and deciding which the plethora of options available are the best for you.

Larry Hodgson, author of Perennials for Every Purpose  and Annuals for Every Purpose is one of our favorite authors for a number of reasons.  In his perennial book, he has an excellent chapter on “Getting Your Garden Started”.  The following list is influenced by this chapter.

  1. Decide on a spot for your garden.

How would you like to enjoy this garden? Example questions are:

  • What kind of a garden will it be – a flower garden, a veggie garden, or a mix?
  • Is it a garden you’d like to see from a window?
  • Is it a garden you’d like to sit in?
  • What size will it be? Size will determine a lot about this garden and what you can do with it.
  • Take note of the hours of sun and shade available to the space and write it down
  • Remember to note fences and buildings which shade the sun
  • What is the moisture like in this area?
  • Is it a wet spot, a dry spot or somewhere in-between?
  • Note the soil quality – this is more of a spring question…
  • Is it a rich, deep black soil with lots of organic matter?
  • Is it fine, heavy, packed, and rocky?
  • Does the soil need to be amended?
  1. Draw out your plan.
  • Get out your pencil, ruler, and grid paper and get creative
  • Would you like to incorporate any ‘hard scape’ items in this garden such as a fountain, bench, wishing well, bird bath, arch, or pergola?
  • Would you like to include any trees or shrubs in this garden?

 

  1. Research your plant list – the web has wonderful resources for this step

Match your plants with the environmental conditions:

  • Shade or sun?
  • Wet or dry?
  • Windy or calm?

Season of bloom

  • Most perennials have a season of bloom. For a well-rounded garden, have a few  from each season
  • Annuals bloom, for the most part, all summer long so include some alongside perennials to pull constant color through

Fragrance

  • Consider including some fragrant annual plant picks like Alyssum, Dianthus, Datura, Evening Scented Stocks, Heliotrope, Lavender, Nicotiana, Rosemary, Sweet Pea, Stocks
  • Consider fragrant perennials such as Daylilies, Dianthus, Iris, LA Hybrid or Oriental lilies, Monarda (Bee Balm), Peony, Phlox, Roses, Thyme

 

So, grab a nice warm beverage, cozy up, & plan ahead!

Let it Snow! | Gardening Tips

After all of the excitement of the December holidays and as we hunker down with dogged determination to overcome winter, let’s shed some warmth on why snow is so good.

Winter is marked by low temperatures (oh yes, don’t we know it!) and low levels of ambient sunlight.  Think of snow as a winter insulating blanket and a moisture insurance policy for spring.  Snow has varying degrees of insulating power to moderate the overall ground temperature. Usually fluffy fresh snow has the greatest insulating capacity because it possesses the most air spaces. Air is what gives snow its insulating clout, up to six times greater than soil compared to an equivalent depth.  Pomeroy & Brun, who wrote “Physical Properties of Snow” cite that 10 inches of freshly fallen snow is equivalent to a 6 inch blanket of insulation, approximately a value rating of R18. Heavy wet snow, therefore, is less effective at protecting from cold because of its decreased amount of air pockets. Also as a blanket, snow protects the crown of plants from wind and protects perennials from the freeze / thaw cycle of spring by stabilizing the ground temperatures and keeping the crown protected.

On a practical note for the home garden, spots to watch for adequate snow cover is under eaves, in narrow passages between buildings, and where furnace exhausts and drier vents blow.  These areas often have a decreased amount of snow due to roof interference from snowfall, wind blowing snow from narrow spaces, and melt from the warm air exhausts. When shovelling sidewalks, be sure to throw the snow in these areas to build up the snow cover.

Some perennials with nice winter garden interest include ornamental grasses, tall fall blooming sedums, german statice, limonium, and gas plant.  As you plan your garden for 2016, consider including some of these in your landscape.  In the meantime, let’s hope for a little more snow.