Time to Rethink Your Gardening Plan

Maybe you’re a down-and-dirty gardener at heart. Or maybe you just like looking at nice flowers. Either way, it might be time to rethink your gardening plan.

Time to Rethink Your Gardening Plan

You know, THE PLAN. The plan you start developing in your head weeks, months, maybe even years (backyard wedding, anyone?) in advance of that last Indiana frost date when you can put those tender plants out without fear of finding them limp, brown and frozen the next morning.

I made a not-so-subtle reference to the annuals I buy each spring with the idea of just how I want them to look at my place, only to cast a sad eye on them as they die, leftover in their plastic flat. Really, my mind has exacting spots for each and every marigold, longs to see hummingbirds zipping and diving around the red salvia and really does want to catch each pea pod before it dries on the vine.

Facing Facts

But, facing facts means facing time constraints and body aches. And truly, as much as I love working in the garden, don’t I deserve an hour or two to sit back and enjoy it without feeling like I have to constantly deadhead something? (As an aside, I will never forget the new gardener who thought I was making a Grateful Dead reference and was slightly aghast when I told him that’s what we call pulling dead blooms from a plant.) My available gardening area is pretty expansive. When I looked at it 20 years ago, before I had two children and a need to sleep at least until 6:00 a.m., I was undaunted. Now that I’m over 50, I think hard about plants, placement and especially weeding and watering.

But a little consideration can keep the drudgery to a minimum. For instance, if weeding is the bane of your gardening existence, plant not only flowers but vegetables in containers. You may still get the occasional weed, but it’ll be much easier – and gratifying – to pluck out. Placing a layer of mulch on the soil in the container keeps weeds down and prevents soil from being blown out by wind or splattered out by rain.

No Deadheading

Purchase annual flowers that don’t need deadheading. You know the standard offenders: annual geraniums, marigolds, old-fashioned petunias (ugh, sticky to boot) and the like. This year, the companies that trot out beautiful annuals to box stores and local vendors alike have lengthy lists of flowers that need minimal deadheading or are actually considered “self-cleaning.”

Gardeners often think of perennials as the “easy” plants because they are kind enough to grow back year after year. However, even those can have significant maintenance schedules. Ornamental grasses die out in the center and need to be divided, and the phrase “rose garden” makes me wince. Be sure to ask about perennials’ long-term growth habits and take a look at updated varieties.

And if you’re not much for the outdoors but just enjoy a pretty view, remember: a window box can be a lovely thing.

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