With so many good gardening books out there (you've probably
already read several of them) there's no point in me trying to write another.
Even though, there are some important basics to follow. Gardening is a
learning experience - no 2 years are alike and no 2 plants are alike. For
me gardening is a creative outlet and trying new ideas and combinations of
plants is what it's all about. Experiment! If a plant doesn't do well in one
spot - move it till you find the spot you both love. But also be patient -
the character of many plants will change as they mature. Here are 2 of the
basics you shouldn't ignore:
Prepare Your Garden
If you're planting in the spring, it is best to have worked the beds last fall (right before you cut that
firewood for the year 2020). But, it's not too late. Work the beds as
deep as you can - even if I rototill, I like to get in there with a
garden fork and loosen the soil as deep as possible. Mix in lots of organic
matter - compost, manure (give it a month to age if it's fresh) or peat
moss. Now is the time to add organic amendments - rock phosphate, bone
meal, greensand, lime - as needed based on your soil test. You did get your
soil tested, right. These types of fertilizers are slow acting and most like
to be worked into the soil.
perennials groups - I
ignored this one for years. I would find myself walking around the
gardens with a trowel and my latest acquisition
trying to find one more empty spot. If you're gardening in a small
space, this may work; but, on a larger scale, these lone individuals
inevitably get lost. Groups of 3 to 5 or more plants make a much more
attractive display. In general, the further away you view the
garden the larger the groupings. Plant in "drifts" -
that is, flowing patterns instead of standard geometrical shapes allowing
the different types of plants to intermingle. Don't forget the foliage
- you'll be seeing more of this than the flowers. A mix of textures will be
more interesting to the eye.
- (Okay 3 things) If you want anything like those pictures you've
been looking at, the garden going to need some extra juice. There are lots
of options both organic and non-organic. As everyone will tell you -
start with a soil test! After you've worked some slow release
fertilizers into the soil, liquid fertilizers or faster acting commercial
fertilizers work well during the growing season.
Now that I think about it, there's also:
Sun = at least 6 hours of direct sun between 10AM and 6 PM
Partial sun = 2 hours of direct sun or dappled all day sun
Shade = Indirect light from heavy tree canopy
- try to take a
regular walks around your gardens. It's a good idea to have pruning shears with you
and do some touch-up while you go. This is a good time to catch any
problems that may be developing, gather some new inspiration or just
SHEARING - fall blooming
perennials can be cut back to 1/2 their height to encourage more flowers
and make them bushier and less floppy - no later than 8 weeks before
the bloom time. Spring bloomers can be cut back after they bloom to make a
neater plant for the rest of the season.
DEADHEADING - you can prolong
the bloom season by removing the spent flower heads just above the next
THINNING - many tall
varieties benefit from thinning out some of the stems (cut to the ground).
This will improve air circulation thus reducing the chance of disease and
mildew and may give you larger flowers on the remaining stems. This
is all but essential with tall garden phlox though many of the new
resistant varieties are forgiving.
I'm a big fan of mulch which not only controls
weeds but also continues to add organic matter to the soil. I usually use leaves or grass
clipping the first year before going to bark or wood chips.