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advice

easy color schemes

Unless it was designed that way, it is kind of hard to impose a color scheme on an established garden, especially if you have a spontaneous personality type that succumbs to the charms of any special-special plant seeming to speak to you and you alone at the plant nursery, and have to bring it home despite the fact that it doesn’t fit into your existing garden design.

If you do have the discipline and willpower to stick to the plan, some color themes are easier to maintain than others, because nature itself designed them that way. For instance, a white, yellow and purple theme will last indefinitely; those are the colors wild flowers come in, these hues are part of a packet of dominant traits which impart on the plants resilience and adaptability.  White, yellow and purple perennials make for the most efficient color palette, they tend to live longer, need less maintenance and be healthier than the rest.
Read more…

perennial groundcovers

I can’t figure out the precise point when a fast spreading plant becomes a ground cover. Some, like ivy, periwinkle and the beautiful blue flowering plumbago in the picture, are quite obvious, others, like lily of the valley and sweet violets, take you by surprise, starting with a shy little clump in spring and filling the garden with their prolific progeny in one season.

I guess if we define as perennial ground cover any plant that fills up all the space it occupies, we can expand the list to include daylilies, beebalms, tickseed, irises, raspberry thickets and strawberry patches. Read more…

what a mess!

You will not believe the level of chaos nature can impose on a reasonably well tended garden in three weeks. It took the plants that long to look scary and me one week to salvage the back yard from the wilderness. Five foot tall weeds, cracked nutshells, broken branches, vines grown out of control, covering pathways, grabbing onto everything in sight and smothering their defenseless neighbors. And this is the extent of my whining. Seriously, it was offensive.

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about watering

Shortly after I took this picture a powerful summer storm started, and not a moment too soon, I was a bit worried because the plants were drooping.

I take this opportunity to mention that rushing to water your plants at the first sign of wilt will keep them from developing a strong root system and will not work out well for either the plants or the gardener in the long run. When the dog days of summer finally arrive you won’t be able to drench their shallow rooted systems enough to keep them alive. Read more…

the makings of a vegetable garden

Even for those of us with a more relaxed attitude towards garden design, a vegetable garden demands discipline. For one, you don’t want to question whether the contents of your herb wheel are edible, and vegetable crops are energy intensive enough without unproductive demands on their resources.
The most important task in a kitchen garden is keeping it tidy: weed religiously and trim excessive foliage to encourage produce yield. Avoid diseases promoted by poor air circulation by respecting the plants’ spacing requirements. Read more…

full spring

After the annuals and veggies were moved to their permanent location, the flower beds cleaned and the perennials spruced up, the roses pruned, the fall blooming plants divided and moved and the summer bulbs planted, one would think that the gardener can sit back with a cup of coffee in some cozy verdant nook and relax.
Guess again! Here is the list of activities for this month. Read more…

peonies

On 24, Apr 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, scents | By All Year Garden

The peonies would have bloomed by now, the buds have been ready to burst for more than a week, but it is so unseasonably cold, weird May weather! Temperatures in the fifties, I almost have to question the wisdom of moving the basil outside, it looks miserable.
Peonies are the object lesson for why gardeners benefit from being patient. You don’t get this cascade of blooms from a plant that doesn’t ask anything of you until you put a few years into it. Three, to be specific. Read more…

seedlings

On 10, Apr 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, propagation | By All Year Garden

This year spared us the usual unpleasantness: no hard freezes, no long stretches of unholy temperatures, no weird weather swings. As a result the spring planting is unfolding right on schedule to my great delight.

Usually after a seedling grown in a seed pod is transplanted into the garden, one of two things happen, and I had my fair share of both: it either doubles its growth speed when exposed to the sunshine and the rich garden soil or collapses dramatically under your very eyes, making you feel like a horrible person. Who would do something like this to a little plant, you quietly ask yourself, as your heart sinks into a puddle of misery and self loathing. Read more…

I’m late, I’m late!

I need to speed up the garden planning if I don’t want the roses to leaf out before I get a chance to prune them. See? This is why the wiser gardeners of olden times like to do all the preparation work while mercury is frozen in the thermometer, spring tends to sneak up on you.
Of course now I’m late with the seed starting, spring cleaning, bulb planting, plant ordering, and pretty much everything else. Read more…

little miracles

On 20, Feb 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, propagation | By All Year Garden

The amount of time I spend contemplating the fresh seedlings in the starting tray would probably irritate an action oriented person. I would likely have some difficulty explaining to that person the wonderment of seeing the first set of leaves emerge, or the excitement of watching the tiny shoots develop from delicate strands barely hanging on to life to healthy plants ready to withstand whatever circumstances bring. Read more…