Plan Your 2014 Garden
By MG Calla Victoria
There are few tips that will be of great assistance in acquiring a beautiful garden this year. You must observe the current state of your garden, provide a little maintenance, and select the right plant materials.
Now that winter has official wreaked havoc on your trees and shrubs, it is a great time to go out and have a good look at your garden so that you can do a little better job of planning for this year. Take note of which areas of your garden faired best through freezing weather and make a point of planting your more tender plant material there. Notice which areas of your garden get the most wind, as indicated by pots being blown over, and remember not to put plants with delicate foliage like bananas there; as their leaves will get all torn up. Also that is not a good location for fruit bearing trees as the fruit grows from the bloom of the fruit tree. So if you plant the fruit tree in a windy area of your garden there is a good chance of the wind blowing the blooms off of the trees, then bye-bye fruit because the fruit grows from the bloom, and if the bloom is gone so is the fruit.
As the leaves have dropped on most of your trees, now is a great time to do some maintenance that could not be executed before. Some unwanted trees and vines that were not accessible because of the thick foliage on your trees are now exposed and easy to attack. I have a huge fig tree in my yard and behind it is growing some other kind of small tree that I did not plant nor do I want, as well as a thorny vine of some kind. During the growing season, I could see parts of the tree but could not get to it because of the Fig tree, and the same was true of the thorny vine. But now that Miss Big Fig stands naked in the winter winds, I can see clearly the culprits that have been robbing her of precious moisture and I can rip them from her nakedness.
Check out my "Gardening Tip of the Week" page for what to do after a Freeze.
Familiarize yourself with the bones of your garden
Gardening experts say that winter is the perfect time to plan your garden, and if your garden isn’t beautiful in the winter, you did not properly plan your garden. Once all of the leaves have fallen then the bones of your garden are visible. Note hardscape (pavers, paths, and seating walls etc.), structures (statuary, garden benches, columns, outdoor fireplaces); evergreens, and water features. Jot them down so that you can work your plantings around them. Perhaps you want to plant some climbing vines near your columns or arches. If you are old-school take pencil to paper, and if you have graduated to technology you can download garden design apps with drag and drop features to help you visualize your garden design. No matter which method works for you by all means put something down on paper.
When planning your garden think color, sound, fragrance, and movement. Make it a point to include perennials, long-lasting bloomers like bromeliads, short-term fabulous blooming annuals like sunflower, also grasses, seasonal bulbs, and evergreens. The bloomers like Black Schwarzwalder Calla lily, (botanical name Arum palaestinum) give you periodic color, so throw in some colorful foliage plants like Cordyline fruticosa to provide color when flowering plants are not blooming. Grasses like bamboo, and sugarcane ( botanical name Saccharum officinarum) provide movement and sound. Also trickling water from some sort of water feature is a must of any well appointed garden. Fragrance is the most pleasant addition to any garden, that sweet smell lingering in the air. Mint is great for fragrance. In the old days people would plant mint near the front entrance and just before company would arrive they would run out and beat the mint plants with a broom to heighten the smell. I love mint but it is quite invasive so by all means plant it in containers or in a confined area in your garden. Mint is great year around in the south. Sweet alyssum is great this time of the year for that wonderful fragrance as well as delicate white blooms. Also lavender is great in containers or in a very dry sunny part of your garden for that great relaxing scent. For zones 10 and above the sweet smell of Ylang-Ylang which comes from the Ylang-Ylang tree, which is used in Chanel N° 5 perfume, is a must have.
This article was printed in the January 11, 2014 edition of Data News Weekly and on www.ladatanews.com