imageGarden centers are blooming up a storm with bedding plants, herbs and vegetables…Now is the time to start planting, but not before you take a little time to think about what needs to go where, I am a big believer in getting the planting spaces ready whether in established beds or breaking new ground. Garden chores are never done, so decide what you want to focus on first. For me, it has to be the front yard; it’s where I usually park, it’s what I see when I go get the mail, it’s what I see when I come home. This year, we have had to install a new front door (more in another post on that!) and we also had to repair the screened porch in the back, not finished yet! Most  of the work is now going on out back, So you know it would have to be the front yard again this year. Here is my checklist for getting started.

  • Prune the dead branches and shrubs, this includes shrub roses and overgrown or overcrowded perennial plants.
  • Weed the established beds.
  • Find the blank spots. Buy pine straw for these areas, to hold down the weeds and hold moisture once the plants are in place.
  • Make note of what is growing well and where; what the current major color scheme is and if it needs tweaking.
  • Be aware of where the sun is at morning, midday and late afternoon.
  • Keep in mind the style and color of your home when buying plants.

This is all before the first bedding plants are even purchased. I had one area where creeping jenny and irises are just getting a foothold. I wanted these perennial plants to have room to spread, so that is where annuals needed to go. I made an odd choice as you can see- that’s right, I planted purple cabbage. It was cheap, colorful and will get big and then be gone! Small vegetable plants are generally cheaper than annual flowers. I like to plant begonias that mimic the colors of my knockout roses. But there are at least two spots that are too shady for the begonias to really make a good show, so I purchased a couple of six packs of annual impatiens in the same color family as the begonias and the roses.image

  • When buying bedding plants don’t just think ‘bloom’ think ‘foliage’- often the colored foliage will outlast the blooms. Purple cabbage- real or ornamental, opal basil and coleus are just a few.
  • Don’t buy spindly overgrown plants, you will have to cut them back to get a new flush of bloom which may not be as vigorous as buying very small younger plants. ( I made an exception to this rule, I bought a six pack of violas because I had a small spot for them and because they re-seed. Also at the end of the season I sometimes buy ‘spent’ plants if they are perennial or re-seed and if they are bargain plants.)
  • Don’t buy plants that are dried out, bedding plants need lots of water until they are well established.
  • When buying herbs, the rule of thumb is that most perennial herbs do not prefer good soil and do not need as much water as other plants, basil and mint are two exceptions to this rule. I love to plant rosemary in drier areas of my garden, it can get very large.
  • Some shrubs and fruit bearing plants can be planted now, azaleas and blueberries are good examples of this- both grow in my front garden.
  • There are so many tips and tricks this time of year, but one of my favorites is that a western exposure needs ‘hot’ plants- plants that can take heat and strong sunlight and that have strong color.
  • If something doesn’t work where it is, don’t be afraid to move the plant to a different spot next year, I give a plant 3 chances- after that? I have to assume I can’t grow it. If something you love grows prolifically? Plant it over and over again! I have masses of spiderwort, hosta, hydrangeas, azaleas and roses.

I love pale pink roses and camellias. I planted pale pink flowers in my front western exposure yard- and they just faded in the strong light. Now, I have a red camellia and the hot pink knock out roses, a mix of hot pinks in begonias and impatiens- when combined with greens, blues and dark purple, the result pleases me in that lighting. I planted my love of pale pink around back where the eastern sun is a perfect place for them to shine.

There are so many good garden books out there to help you make a good plan, one of my favorite garden authorities is P. Allen Smith- his book, ‘Garden Home’ is one of my favorites. I have more favorites listed at the end of the end of this post. Most of all  have fun with your garden, don’t try to make it look like a public park. Strive to make it a reflection of your own personality.

I’d love to hear your favorite tips and tricks -seasoned gardeners, first time gardeners, garden writers or bloggers- new and old, let’s hear from you-it’s time to plant!

Love y’all, Camellia

P. Allen Smith

The Grumpy Gardener

Martha Stewart Gardening

Rosemary Verey


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