When winter seems like it will never end, color-starved gardeners can force the issue. On a sunny day when temperatures reach about 45 degrees F and the buds on spring- blooming shrubs are nice and fat, cut an armful of branches and bring them indoors. Cut the stem ends at a sharp angle and use a hammer to flatten an inch or two of the bottoms of the stems. Place in a vase of water in a sunny window and within a few days, the buds will open. Forsythia, quince and pussy willow are excellent for indoor forcing.
As spring comes around design your garden with a little of your own unique personality. Whether you reside in a city or have a lot of land on some picturesque country lane, you can enjoy a garden that reflects your feelings about nature. The tools are simple – plants that fit into your lifestyle and environment while giving you the maximum enjoyment possible. The following has been designed to guide you in making selections best suited to your special environment.
As you may know there are different types of herbaceous plants of which perennials, biennials and annuals are the main categories. By definition:
A perennial is a plant that will survive for longer than two years
A biennial will last for only two years
An annual will last for only one growing season
This is not contingent upon weather, however many perennials cannot survive in climates that go below freezing. These are called tender perennials. When you are trying to select a plant for your garden make sure you check what temperature zone this plant can survive in.
Biennials are the smallest group, they are best used like a perennial because most will reseed after the second year. However they tend to change position and spread depending upon where their seeds fall.
Perennials are a bit more predictable in their position in your garden but there are a few that are invasive. They may be the best choice for large areas because they require only a minimum amount of maintenance. This is far less work than completely replanting every year with annuals.
The purpose best served by annuals is consistent color display. Most will bloom for the entire season and some will reseed and return in the same general area every year. You may want to consider a mixture of all these types for consistency of display with a greater amount of diversity.
When planning your garden consider all the merits of each plant – it’s size, habit, leaf-form, color, shape and texture. These are the long term qualities, which will be on display after it’s main season of interest has passed. Be careful not to make your garden too diverse by choosing one of this and two of that. A few well selected varieties planted in groups can be much more pleasing to the eye and easier to maintain. Time is also an element to consider, some feature plant should always be in bloom in order to create a changing focal point.
Hardiness is most commonly determined by a plant’s resistance to cold, however soil conditions and excessively hot dry summers can be important factors for some more tender varieties. Both soils with a light clay content, which do not drain freely, and excessively light soils, where water retention is poor, will adversely influence cold-weather survival. The care tags included with your plants should indicate the soil preference for each plant.
Use organic fertilizers while gardening. They help build up soil organisms and improve the quality and hardiness of your flowers, shrubs, trees and lawn.
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