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As we get to a “certain age,” all of those things that we once thought mildly amusing begin to make sense.
Those reading glasses propped on the end of your nose? Nobody can really see that tiny print, can they? A little Botox on those forehead furrows might be just the trick. And, I don’t know anyone who actually loves (or even likes) love handles. Maybe some liposuction is in order.
Plant people aren’t immune to the ravages of time that are reflected in the mirror. We just apply many of those same criticisms to our gardens.
Here are some horticultural suggestions for a new look this spring that don’t involve liposuction or rhinoplasty and they’ll probably please you so much that your big smile will show off those well-earned crow’s feet even more.
If your garden just needs a little nip and tuck to come into its own, start with new containers. You can grow vegetables, flowers, herbs and even smaller trees and shrubs in containers. The combinations are only limited by your space, funds and imagination.
Whatever style and color you choose, larger is usually better. For instance, to grow a single tomato requires the equivalent of a 5-gallon nursery pot. That container actually has a volume of more than 4 gallons or almost 16 liters—helpful if you’re trying to figure how much potting soil to buy.
Speaking of potting soil, resist the urge to use garden soil and stick with the pine bark-based media. You’ll avoid soil-borne diseases, nematodes and other problems that plague so many of our plants. Containers also require the porous media so they don’t stay waterlogged. Water relationships are very different in containers.
Self-professed garden gurus will often recommend you fill the bottom of your containers with stone or brick chips to improve drainage. That is the gardening equivalent of going in to have more varicose veins added to your legs.
If you need something to prevent the potting soil from falling out of the drainage holes, that’s OK, but don’t reduce the soil column height with stones and chips.
Trying new flowers and accent plants is the “chemical peel” of the garden—brightening without changing the basics. For a bold color and texture statement, try Acalypha Showtime that looks a bit like coleus, only better.
Add movement and color with Fireworks fountain grass (Pennisetum). Place the compact and bright yellow Georgia Yellow blanket flower (Gaillardia) in a hot, dry location and sit back and enjoy the show. Get season-long color from disease-resistant Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus), such as the Cora series.
Nothing will change your garden look and feel like water. Whether you go with the simplest bubbling container or the massive makeover of ponds and waterfalls, the sight and sound of moving water can even make viewing the tightly pulled mug of Joan Rivers a bit more palatable.
If it’s time for a major renovation, think about stone, pavers or brick patios, decks or other “hardscapes” to create interesting spaces for you and your guests. Remember that a great garden—no matter what the cost or complexity–is all about how people interact with it.
Gardens are like people in one respect; they are works in progress. So try not to be too critical of imperfection and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the space you created.
Al Hight is the county extension director and horticulturist with the Brunswick County Cooperative Extension Service. Call 253-2610 or e-mail email@example.com.