Friday, February 6, 2015
I was talking with a non-gardening friend last week and she asked me to give her some advice. More specifically, the best advice I could offer a new gardener. Well, that certainly got me thinking and here is what I told her:
Gardening isn’t about competing with the neighbours, rather it’s about creating a space that makes you happy. Whether its a single container of petunias, a personal veggie plot or a large ornamental garden, take pride in what you create and be sure to enjoy the process.
It’s very easy to go overboard when making your first ornamental or vegetable garden, but remember to start small. If you find yourself running behind and don’t have time to care for your garden, it will become overgrown and weedy and feel like a chore. Your garden should help you relax, not be another item on a ‘to-do’ list.
Feed the earth
Ok, this sounds cheesy, but it’s true. A healthy, low-maintenance garden begins with good soil. Yearly applications of compost or aged manure will feed the diverse populations of microorganisms who live in the soil, who in turn will release nutrients back to your plants.
Work with Mother Nature
Do yourself a favour and grow plants that do well in our region. They will require less fertilizer, water and be more resistant to insect and disease problems. Not sure what they are? Ask at your local nursery, spy on your neighbours garden (not to compare, but just to see what they are growing) or join a garden club.
It’s hard to go wrong with hardy perennials like daylilies, veronica, purple coneflower, yarrow and ornamental grasses. Top shrubs include hydrangea, weigela, azaleas, rhododendrons and rugosa roses. As for trees, I count magnolias, paperbark maple, Japanese maple, serviceberry and Kousa dogwood among my top picks.
Eat (and grow) your veggies
It’s amazing how homegrown veggies and herbs taste so much better than store bought, so consider planting a small vegetable garden, adding herbs to a windowbox or even tucking some tomatoes or bush beans among your ornamental plants. If you have young children or grandchildren, it’s also a great way to introduce them to where their food comes from. Plus, they’ll have fun ‘helping’ tend and water the garden.
My favourite veggies include ‘Sungold’ tomatoes, ‘Lemon’ cucumbers, pattypan zucchini, ‘Emerite’ pole beans and ‘Napoli’ carrots.
What advice would you add??