First, I have to comment about the weather. Glorious. Just over a year ago was the now infamous Patriot’s Day Storm. The day’s ravages are still with us. Uprooted mounds where there once were mighty oaks, birch’s snapped like twigs, mismatched roof shingles reflective of those lost and replaced. Just a year ago this pas week I raked shards of glass from blown out sunroom windows.
On to the present and future! This will be my last installment of ‘Gardening 101’. My 3 previous installments are still posted here at the Skillin’s Garden Log. We’ve planned, prepared, tested and with all the walking are in shape. Now we are salaciously waiting to sow the seeds of our studies.
Right Plant, Right place.
Longing for the fragrance of lilac after a May rain yet wonder why they never bloom in your woodland setting? Dreaming of a tidy garden with tiny pinpricks of Gold and Lavender for color yet plant Nepeta (Catmint) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans)? Wishing for a colorful low growing border for the shady side of your house and decide on Joe-Pye Weed and Garden Phlox? You love the abstract form and texture of the Mugo pine with a vision of installing several along the northern foundation. You feel these sprawling evergreens will work well under the canopy of your crabapples. Will they?
What is wrong with these scenarios? I have many such stories of woe but you don’t need to.
My recommendation is simple. Too simple, really. Research.
Does this mean you have to investigate arm loads of gardening magazines? Spend countless time searching on-line or fill your library with gardening books?
What to do?
With the exception of People, Places and Plants (found at http://www.ppplants.com/) , gardening magazines are often geared to the Hardiness Zones with longer growing seasons. Internet sites are only as reliable as those who create them. I trust the sites of known local nursery and garden centers and various University Cooperative Extensions.
Yes, all of this research may sound too much like work. Do not fret, fun is on the way. I’ve saved the easiest and above all totally FREE suggestions for last………….
Read, ask, buy...
Speak with the staff at your favorite family owned nursery and take away their gardening catalogs. A wealth of information on both accounts. It may seem obvious why asking questions is significant to picking the right plant but why a catalog?
The Nursery Catalog holds the key. Along with the common and botanical name, of each plant, shrub or tree are notations regarding sun exposure; growth habits and other conditions of interest. Carry these with you as a reference when shopping.
I’m not done yet. For I offer you the Pinnacle Plant Syllabus. Drum roll please!
A simple plastic strip stating a plethora of points-----the plant tag. Oh, how I wish I could purchase my own set and collect them as children do baseball cards. I’ll trade you the 1998 Perennial of the Year for the 2007 Cary Award Winner.
As you admire the plant, read before you proceed to purchase. Light exposure, height, spread as well as bloom time in words and symbol are included. Imagine all this time a world of answers waited at your fingertips. One final warning, however. As much as I adore plant tags, I abhor them in beds and attached to shrubs. You wouldn’t expose the care instructions or maintain price tags on your clothing? Remove those tags; keep them if you must (I keep one of each) with your journal or file just not in your garden. Many botanical markers are available or create your own.
Gardening 101 is now at it’s completion. Your passing grade will be what you make of these suggestions. We welcome your thoughts and will be gleeful at your successes and offer a shoulder for those plans that went awry.
Next time……….reports from the field…………
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
April 28, 2008