Your Garden as a Symphony
By LMG Calla Victoria
Dwarf Burning Bush
Your garden should be symphony of color, texture, and fragrance all year-round. Although many plants are dormant in the winter, this is the time that you should be actively planning your garden. During the winter you can see the bones of your garden with the evergreens and trees that are always there. So it is during the winter time that you should be planning the rest of your year considering ground covers, color, and textures to complement existing plant materials. First of all you want to start with your bulbs because they need to go through the chilling process of winter to bloom in the spring. Try layering your bulbs for extended blooming. Some bulbs require a planting depth of 8 inches, some 5 inches, and some 3 inches; so select bulbs that bloom at different times. Dig a trench 8 inches deep, plant the first set of bulbs and cover with a little soil (making sure you place the bulbs in the soil pointy side up), then place in the 5 inch depth bulbs and so on. Finally plant something with winter interest on top like pansies, sweet alyssum, or petunias. Now you have color through the winter, and when the pansies start to wilt your first blooms of your bulbs should be opening, then by the time those blooms are fading you second bulbs are opening, and so forth like crescendos in a symphony!
If you are a serious gardener like I am, right about now you are being bombarded with catalogs from nurseries across the country with photos of fabulous plants. By all means check the “zone hardiness” of your plant selections, as all plants will not grow in all zones. For example, I am in love with the Dwarf Burning Bush shrub (Syringa vulgaris) however it will not grow in my zone; nor do most lavenders and the lilac shrubs, which are the most fragrant of all shrubs. Now there is a new hybrid lilac shrub called Dwarf Josee Lilac (Syringa josee) which is supposed be hardy in my zone, so I will give it a try.
When I started the Master Gardeners course I was annoyed by all of those crazy Latin names assigned to each plant. But I quickly began to understand their importance. Each plant is assigned two botanical names, the first name is always written starting with a capital letter, and that first name denotes the genus or major plant family. The second name is always written in lowercase and represents the species. Take the Wandering Jew plant for example, within that genus there are there are several species, the varigated (Tradescantia zebrina), Queens purple heart (T. pallidia), and the fuzzy wandering jew (T. sillamontana).
Remember, never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!