Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mrs. Gosling, How Does Your Garden Grow

Dear girls, 

Here it is:  GARDENING 101/ "things that make you go hmmm ..."

Phase 1 - Trees and Shrubs

Prairie Fire Crab Apple tree.  I purchased 2 of them at HD, 2 years ago for $16.98 each.  They are MAGNIFICENT in the Spring and Fall!
Full disclaimer:  I am in no way a professional landscaper or gardener.  I am a woman who likes to shop and is mildly, wait, MAJORLY, obsessed with creating a front and backyard oasis for our home.  In my attempt to build an oasis I always have to keep in mind my three, soon to be FOUR, kids and one very energetic chocolate lab.  They all love dirt and more specifically love to drag dirt into my house.  Therefore, I like plants.  It's simple:  I prefer plants to mud.  More plants=less mud.

So here we go ladies...a couple tricks I've learned along the way:


1 - First, ask yourself what kind of yard do you have?  Me - I have sun and shade throughout the day.  So, I can pretty much grow anything I want with some attention to placement detail.  Keep this in mind when choosing your plants - don't try to put a limelight hydrangea in HOT, HOT sun.  It will fry up like bacon and you will have wasted $25. Another great tip - start a compost pile.  We picked a corner of the yard where the kiddies and dog don't trample, we throw all of our vegetable clippings, grass clippings and plants (in the fall) in there.  You don't need a fancy compost bin ....  Turn it over once a month!   Soon, you will have a dark, rich compost full of worms for your gardens.  By using this, you cut down on dirt/garden soil you have to buy in the spring and you can supplement throughout the season as your plants' foundation erodes with the rain.   

2 - Find something that works and buy 3 or more.  I go to  Lowe's, Home Depots and Feed stores the most.  Friday nights are the best time to shop! The trucks have unloaded new stock and no one has picked it over.  I usually go at least once every 2 weeks and stock up on the $5 or $6 plants.  Most stores carry different things, so grab a coffee and head out for some retail therapy.   If you are flexible you can snag some great deals.

3 - Patience vs. Checkbook? Since most of us are not batting 1000 in either category - stick with patience.  Check the stats on your plants and remember they WILL GET BIGGER.  I have found that after 2 years, plants take off and this is the perfect time to start pruning for desired shape.  Give them some time to establish roots before giving them a cut.  I started all of my gardens (slowly ..... s-l-o-w-l-y) in Fall 2008.

Totally lame with NO landscaping.  August 2008

June 2012.  New paint job and all new plantings.  Remember, this has been
a slow process. 
4 -  Keep your receipts and tags on your plants for at least a year. This is BIG...Huge!   All big box stores will give you a one year guarantee on nursery stock.  Just this year, I had to return 8 hydrangeas due to a late frost.  I kept the receipt and original tags.  They took back the plants without hesitation.  Throw your paperwork in an envelope and label what they are.  It may seem like overkill but trust me, it won't feel that way when you are cursing your yard in early April because your plants are withering and you have no way of replacing them. 

5 -  Sign up for garden clubs, newsletters and emails.  I have gotten many free plants, trees and shrubs through coupons (usually around Mother's day and major holidays).  If you sign your hubby or significant other up, you get 2 - Woot, woot!!!  I also ask for gift cards for major holidays, birthday, Xmas ....  Let's be honest, at our age what else do we really need?  I have enough yoga pants and I'm not cool enough for fancy purses.  I would much rather buy something that I can watch grow and take care of with the kiddies.  It gives them a sense of investment in the house and some responsibility.  Their future spouses will thank me someday!

Here are some of my faves!  They fill in well and don't mind an occasional soccer ball drop kicked at them. 

Burning Bush
Balsam Fir (planted July 2009)  Best find ever, grows almost 2 feet a year.  Purchased at a feed store with a 3 year warranty!!!

Back row - Yew
Middle - spirea
Front - Barberry

A few other all time goodies:  dappled willows, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, azaleas, euonymus, arborvitae's, Cleveland pear trees, October glory trees. 

Stay tuned .... next phase!  Perennials and annuals - COLOR!!!

Obsession?  Yes, please.  I am completely in love with these plants. 
I envision myself cutting them down every morning like Ina Garten
on Barefoot Contessa.  Hydrangeas = Zen!
PS - Don't worry Mrs. Williams.  I will get to ground cover.  You know you have a lot of it, you know I want all of it and if you see a severely pregnant woman in Wellies stealing it in the middle of the night - don't shoot! 

 Peace Out!

Mrs. Kelly Comment:  Uh, why don't you rub it in a little more?  "I can pretty much grow anything."  Just kidding.  You know I'm just jealous because my yard has more trees than Redwood National Park.  I like your idea of find something that works and buy three.  In our yard (because of all the shade) the hostas thrive.  Also like the shopping tip to go on Friday nights.  Who knew?  You apparently.

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