Knowing what you want your garden to look like and actually getting it to turn out like that can be a very intimidating task. Your garden may be large, medium, or small, but the design obstacles are all basically the same. Have you ever found yourself standing in the middle of your garden and asking yourself, “Now what do I do?”
Don’t worry, you are not alone. I have the great fortune of helping gardeners find answers and solutions to all their gardening dilemmas. The majority of my work goes into helping gardeners find out what they want their garden to look like and how to get it that way.
We all want a beautiful low-maintenance garden space, but what else? The options can seem endless, so start by writing them all down. Write down as many things as you can think of, then narrow it to the six most important to you.
These six are now your garden goals and will form the basis for all the decisions that will be made over the years as your garden evolves.
Your goals should be very broad. If your focus is too narrow early in the design process, you will get all caught up in the little details and decisions and lose sight of the overall goal or ultimate result. One of my personal gardening goals is to have a garden space to relax in but also to entertain family and friends. This goal has guided me through each new step, every plant, and each decision over the last 12 years.
Start out big and work your way to small. From your goals you can determine what the basic elements of your design are and install them. I call this the garden outline and it should go in first. Once the outline is in place, relax and take your time as you begin to individualize the space and start adding details as time and budget allow.
Work project by project, or season by season, by simply asking yourself what is the next right thing to do based on your goals. Step by step, little by little, plant by plant, budget by budget, you will make the right choices to achieve the garden you desire. Knowing your limits, whether you are doing the gardening work yourself, having someone do it for you, or a combination of the two, will ensure your success.
When I am working on a design, the plants are the last things I allow myself to think about and choose for the space. Selecting plants that are suitable for the existing situation is much easier and has lower maintenance than forcing plants to perform in a certain way or in a given situation that goes against their natural habit.
A sample garden
I began working with Christy Wafford of Louisville just over a year ago, and she would consider her garden nowhere near completion but simply in progress. She continues to work project by project, plant by plant, while maintaining her overall vision of the space.
Each piece of her gardening puzzle is growing off the main focal point, the swimming pool.
Her garden is more than just a garden; it is a part of her home and a part of her life. It is not perfect and yet it is beautiful. There have been many successes, but also a few failures. She has had to compromise on the design and plant selections due to soil conditions, but her once-empty back yard is now transformed into a reflection of her family.
So the next time you find yourself standing in the middle of your garden asking yourself “What do I do now?” all you have to do is take a deep breath, review your six goals for the garden, then ask yourself what is the next right thing that needs to be done today.
ASK THE GARDENER
by Angie McManus
When can I replant my peonies?
Peonies are known for having spectacular blooms. These long-lived plants are also notorious for not responding well to transplanting. They are best left alone after planting if possible. There is no good time to move any peony. Depending on your reason for moving the plant, it may be good to reconsider.
These herbaceous perennials have a large, deep tuberous root system. This type of root system, as opposed to one with many fibrous shallow roots, is more difficult to move. It is important, as with any transplanting, to keep as much of the root system attached as possible. Since established peonies have more of a deep tuberous root, it is difficult to dig that deeply without damaging the root.
If you must move your peony, now or late summer to early fall would be the time to do it. Peonies prefer to be planted in full sun to part shade in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil.
HAVE A GARDENING QUESTION?
Go to www.KentuckyLiving.com, click on Home & Garden, then “Ask The Gardener” link to ask a question.