Practical Tips To Make Your Plants Better
Seriously, if your plants look better then your garden design is going to be better. But no design is going to hide plants that look bad.
And yes, that means the first step in garden design is to have well-maintained plants. Here are some tips on doing that.
Move your perennial flowers in the fall. Spring or fall works but here are a few tips on doing it in the fall
Clay soil articles to be added here
Note to visitors this is a brand new site for me and I’m busily publishing and organizing the content. Thanks for your patience while it all sorts itself out (May/19)
How To Easily Understand Plant Latin?
Just to give you the language. A species is the individual plant name (Coreopsis) and this would be comparable to your last name. In my case, Green. The individual plant in the species has a “specific epithet” or individual Latin name to identify it from all the other Coreopsis, one example would be verticillata – in my case “Doug”.
Just as there is more than one Doug Green, there is more than one Coreopsis verticillata and we need to have a way to identify this further. So I might be Doug Green ‘garden writer’, while the garden would have Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’. Now you know enough to handle any plant conversation with your local garden shop.
Nature doesn’t trim spent flowers. Simply understand if you leave the spent flowers, you may have seeds germinate and other plants develop that may or may not look like your fancy hybrid (hybrids don’t come true from seed).
Perennial Flowers in Containers or not
You can grow any plant in a container so whether you can grow a perennial isn’t an issue. What is at question is whether you want to look “cool” by doing so.
It’s a design thing and if you want to stay current and fashionable, then go ahead. But if not, then stick to annuals, it’s less work.
Overwintering your container-perennials is as simple as digging them out of the container in the fall and planting them in the garden for the winter. In the early spring, you can dig them back up to replant in a container or allow them to grow in the garden.
If you don’t have a garden, then the objective is to keep the roots above 5F. If they go below this temperature, they often die. If they go above 40F, they’ll regularly start growing.
Do not bring them into the house and try to keep them growing all winter. You may keep them alive but they’ll fade away the next year as they need a dormancy period.
If you can’t store them or plant them for the winter, then I recommend either not growing them or treating them as annuals (or giving them to a friend to overwinter).
Instantly Improve Your Perennial Garden
There are several practical things every homeowner can do to instantly improve their perennial garden. Here’s the single easiest thing to do that will improve any design.
And here are three principles of perennial garden design to get you thinking
The first is to use what we call “backbone plants”. These are plants that grow and thrive in your specific garden situation. Or, that have a characteristic you want in your garden such as these 28 long blooming perennials or you may be looking for tall ornamental grass.
These plants might include some of my favorite eight long blooming perennials, or these 33 plants for wet spots.
Or it could be using rock hardy plants that live for decades such as peonies, daylilies, iris, and hosta. Personally, I’ve always been partial to daisies and here are three of the best.
If you’re interested in wildlife, you can include plants that may attract hummingbirds or other creatures. And while many gardeners focus on the actual design, I also suggest there are three techniques you want to use to prolong the blooms in your garden.
See the section below on the “Myth of the English Cottage Border” for how you can design your own perennial garden even if you’re not a designer.
The Myth of the Cottage Garden Border
There is a myth about the cottage garden border that says it must be custom designed or it won’t look good. And far too many gardeners obsess over color and plant combinations to the detriment of their enjoyment of the garden.
The cottage garden started in industrial workers houses in the U K when the women planted seeds, shared cuttings planting a wide variety of whatever they could find or save over the winter into their gardens.
From vegetables to annuals and including herbs and perennials, the “collection” of plants was a mish-mash representing those flowers the woman could obtain. They weren’t fancy varieties but old-fashioned stand-by plants and seeds saved from season to season. It was a poor-person’s garden.
The Edwardians tarted this up giving us designer cottage gardens but it need not be this way.
The honest answer here is that if you grow what you love, if you crowd the plants into the space to maximize the flowers and vegetables you’re growing, it will look great no matter what you grow. All jumbled together, your garden will look fantastic.
But you have to crowd them a bit – leaving big spaces between plants is not allowed as is having all short or modern plants. You want to mix perennials, annuals, and bulbs to give you riotous mix.
But you have to love growing each one of those plants because that love will make your garden work.