02 April 2011

Design Faux Pas and Favourite Tips

Design Disasters!
  • One season interest.  Plan your garden for year round interest.  Spring bulbs, forsythia, double flowering plum, bridal wreath spirea, rhododendrons and azaleas are all good examples of plants to include for spring colour.  Summer colour might include Schubert chokecherry (flowers and leaf colour), summer flowering bulbs such as dahlias or calla lilies, clematis, honeysuckle, mock orange, viburnum and more add colour to the summer garden.  Fall colour is often overlooked when planning for the garden.  Try maples, dwarf burning bush, barberries, spirea and more offer great leaf colour while mums brighten the garden with vibrant colour.  Winter interest is often forgotten.  Here are some ways to keep the garden interesting during the long cold winters.  Add evergreens, grasses like miscanthus, plants with unique branching like Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, trees with colourful bark or interesting texture like European mountain ash, Amur chokecherry, Russian Olive, maples and more.
  • It's just too much.  The gardens that are overflowing with statuary, or overgrown plants, or overplanting.  Too much of a good thing is still too much.
  • Scale.  Plant to scale.  Don't use diminutive plants in a foundation planting for a two-story house or towering trees in front of a small home.  For planters remember the rule:  Height of plants should be 1 1/2 to 2 times the height of the container for correct visual balance.
  • The Christmas tree.  The new homeowner decides he/she wants an evergreen right out front that they can decorate with lights for Christmas every year.  Initially this looks fine but over the years the tree outgrows its site, dwarfing the house behind it.  See above photo.  Remember, selecting a plant today can impact you in the future.


Sissinghurst White Garden - note how the white pops in the shade but washes out in the sun.

Frank Ferragine's Favourite Tips:
  • Sunny days are the worst garden days.  It's so much harder on the plant to plant it on a sunny hot day.  Wait for a cooler overcast day to plant and your garden will thank you.
  • Prune after blooming.  Prune lilacs after they bloom.  Same goes for any flowering shrubs.  Deadhead annuals and perennials (unless you plan to save seeds) to encourage flower formation.
  • Weed after it rains.  Have you ever tried to pull weeds when the soil is dry?  It's not an easy task.  Wait until after it rains, or after watering, and you will find they come out so much easier.
  • Fertilize after watering.  This allows the fertilizer to be absorbed more readily.  Frank's favourite is still water-soluble 20-20-20 diluted at half-strength applied weekly.
  • Soap in the fingernails.  After gardening, when your nails are dirty, run your nails over a bar of soap.  You will find it easier to remove the dirt embedded there.  Wash your hands in cold water after gardening as it removes dirt easier.
  • Weight tall garden containers to prevent blowing over in the wind.  Place something heavy in the very bottom and then add soil.
  • Correct height for plants in a container is 1 1/2 to 2 times the overall height of the container.
  • Small properties look best planted with pastel flowers as it makes the area appear larger.  Large properties look great planted in a vibrant colour palette.
  • Plant colourful flowers in full sun and white and pastel colours in shady areas.  White washes out easily in the sun while bright colours remain vibrant.  Light colours make shady areas pop.
  • When transplanting flowers from the pot to the garden, pinch any flowers and remove them (ie. marigolds).  This may seem cruel but the plant will establish itself faster and easier and reward you with more abundant flowers later.

4 comments:

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

I try to think about year round interest for sure! I've had some hits and some mnisses though.. oh well - great post Shirley!

Sheila said...

I'm really enjoying all your gardening tips - they make so much sense. Thanks for taking the time to type them out! It's wonderful to see the snow melting isn't it. I'm looking for micro climates now.

EG Wow said...

Great tips! Did Edmonton get snow like Calgary did a couple of days ago?

Rambling Woods said...

These are good tips especially for me as a novice....Michelle

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