May 29, 2007


Always include plants you love in the garden

Questions. I get Questions. " Ask Carolyn " has been a popular feature on my garden blog and I must admit that I'm behind in answering them. I thought I would devote today's post to some of my reader's questions.

Becky writes : I'm a new gardener with a typical small urban front and back yard. I want to do my own yard , but avoid the mistakes that most novices like myself make. Can you give me some advice ?

Where to start ? Impulse buying ( buying what you see without regard to where it'll go ), planting too close without regard of plant's ultimate size, planting without a plan, planting without regard to sun/shade conditions, planting without preparing the soil are the most common mistakes that new gardeners make.

Try breaking the process down into steps. Make a rough sketch of your garden, indicating measurements of planting areas. Draw from the perspective of looking down from above .

Step 1 : Observe the amount of sun and shade the area gets. Step 2 : Determine what kind of soil you have - sand, clay or loam and plan to improve it with amendments. Step 3 : Think of a focal point, such as a shrub or tree and where you want to place it. Visit the local garden center and talk to their specialists who are more than happy to assist you. Step 4 : Visit the library or book store and explore designs and plants that you like.

These are but a few ways you can pursue a successful garden design. Do not rush the process but take your time and enjoy it. It's important that you include plants that you love in your own garden.

Roger writes : I'm a plant hoarder. I buy a tree or shrub because I like it and always manage to find a space for it even in my tiny backyard. My garden is like a patchwork quilt. Do I need help with my addiction ?

Roger, Roger. I read somewhere that " Your garden doesn't have to be beautiful, you just have to think that it's paradise. " If that makes you happy who am I to say that it's wrong ? Of course, sooner or later, the plants themselves will let you know that they're not happy all smooshed together. I know designers that stuff plants in their garden just because they want one of a kind of everything. Like you, they collect plants.

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