Posted by Tony_Mascarello
It’s the beginning of February and we’ve reached what may be the coldest temps of the season so far (at least here in the Midwest). I saw a funny post on Facebook yesterday (one of those goofy e-cards everyone seems to have on their pages now) stating, “I’m tired of winter. I want to fast-forward so I can bitch about how hot it is!” Guess you had to be there, but I thought it was funny….Anyway, if you are getting the green urges there are certainly some things you can do to quench your thirst, if only a little.
The first, and lowest commitment, task you could do would be to begin setting goals and planning your summer garden activities. Do you plan on changing up your landscape at all? What is working in your landscaping and what isn’t? Did you find a new plant last summer that you just couldn’t fit into your beds? Now is the time to look back at your plantings and decide if you want to change anything up. Perhaps you’ve got some Little Henry Sweetspire in a foundation bed that don’t seem to be growing as well as those further out in the yard. Start thinking about where there might be some space further out that you could move the smaller guys but still have a nice flow in your beds. It’s not uncommon at all the the same plant will grow differently in two different areas of your yard. We call this “putting the right plant in the right place”. Even in the same yard different micro-climates can occur and if a plant is borderline hardy it may do well in one location of your yard but not in another. Perhaps the Sweetspire are just not getting the same moisture under the eve of your roof as the ones out further in the yard or perhaps it’s more shade than they would prefer. Any number of things can affect the growth of a plant and it takes some work and even some trial and error to learn what will work well in your space. Now that you’ve decided to move that Sweetspire, you can start doing your homework to decide if that Hydrangea you found last summer is a good fit for the vacated space.
The first thin I would caution is completely trusting the tag on a particular plant. While these tags are a perfect jumping off point, they seldom have all the information a person truly needs to adhere to that “right plant, right place” concept. Worse than that, if your buying your plants from a “Box-shop” (a big name chain that isn’t strictly a plant centered business) I have seen many instances where the tags are just plain wrong.
These places hire folks who typically have no horticulture background or knowledge and sometimes tags get accidentally switched or lost and these people sadly don’t have sufficient education to know the difference. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying you shouldn’t buy your plants from a box-shop (but you shouldn’t buy your plants from a box-shop, lol); however, I do highly recommend that your do your homework prior to purchasing. With the internet practically in everyone’s pocket these days, there is no excuse for being uninformed. Again, though, I would caution against trusting the internet mail order sites. Many of those sites know just as little as the box-shops do sadly. I would steer you towards websites that are managed by universities or botanical centers. Generally, these are updated on a more regular basis and the information is based on research and experience. Honestly, my go-to website if I’m not sure about a particular plant is the Missouri Botanical Garden Website Plant Finder Resource. This source is great for me because it is close to home with a similar climate and it’s an extensive database. Others such as the USDA plant database, or Ohio State University and UConn are excellent resources as well. All I’m saying is do a little research before you buy that plant and stick it in the border of your landscape just because the tag said it was full sun and it only gets 18 inches tall. That may be the case in Tennessee, but in your zone it is actually part shade and as a result gets closer to 30 inches tall (just an example, but you never know).
The point of the story is DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE IT UP! As a general rule, your garden space is a living, breathing thing that will (and SHOULD) change over time. Plants will die, things will grow differently than we expected, and our tastes will change. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an advocate of throwing away perfectly healthy plants. But you don’t have to kill plants for these changes to occur. I can assure you, even if you don’t like a particular plant or can’t find the perfect place for it in your garden, you know someone who would or knows someone else who would gladly give that plant a new home!
So there you have it, the first tip for curing your wintertime blues! Next time will discuss another surefire way to clear out the winter cobwebs. A much more hands on task than playing on the internet! Next blog we will talk about planning for your kitchen garden! I will share seed starting tips and time-frames as well as ideas for a well rounded kitchen garden. I’ll also provide insight into some of the tools you can use to increase success and ideas for saving cash while still utilizing those tools.
GOOD LUCK AND KEEP GROWING!!!!