Friday, February 21, 2014

Decorating the Garden

This little boy statue is hidden next to a hydrangea and waiting to greet a garden visitor.
Garden decorations can come in all sizes, shapes, colors and price ranges. Some are made of stone, plastic, cement, metal and even resin. I like pieces that are made of cement, stone, steel or cast metal due to their durability in the garden over those that are made of plastic or resin. Most resin or plastic pieces are nice but will not hold up for many years. I have had several resin pieces damaged by falling limbs during storms and with many, the finish wears off from exposure to the elements. Once they have been damaged, they are difficult to repair.

When selecting garden decorations, select a few nice pieces that can be distributed out into the garden. Try to select pieces that fit the style of your garden. A Japanese lantern looks wonderful in a Japanese style garden but a decorative cast iron urn would look out of place in a Japanese garden.

 A beautiful small stone shell is placed in the front of a bed where it can be easily seen.
When placing garden decorations in the garden, try to tuck pieces away and out of sight by placing them near shrubs, trees and other plants to help block them from sight. As a garden visitor explores your garden, they will discover the pieces. Keeping a few pieces hidden from direct sight helps to eliminate a cluttered look. Always remember that when it comes to garden decorations, Less is More.

Garden decorations should draw visitors into and around the garden. They should help show off your garden and compliment it. I have been in a few gardens where they had garden decorations everywhere. The garden looked very cluttered and I found myself feeling overwhelmed, that I never saw the plants or the design of the garden.

Always add a few nice pieces as focal points in the garden. Normally these are larger pieces that can be easily seen and are placed in key spots in the garden to really show them off. As a focal point, they will tend to draw the garden visitor to that part of the garden.

This Japanese lantern is made of a heavy resin material.
When buying pieces, look for pieces that can add function to the garden like decorative planters, a birdbath or a beautiful bench. These items can be used as an art form and also serve a purpose. Here are some examples in the pictures.

This statuary looks beautiful in the garden but also serves as a planter.

This  planter is colorfully planted and looks great in a formal garden .

A full size stone angel stands in a garden as a beautiful focal point.

A gazing ball and resin stand are beautiful in the garden yet inexpensive to purchase.

  Here is a piece that functions as a bench and as a beautiful piece of garden art. 

This cast iron urn stands on a brick foundation. It is a very elegant focal point in a garden.

A little stone owl is cute in a woodland garden and will last a long time in the garden.

These two bronze birds stand in the pond water with the water lilies.

An old stone Japanese lantern provides light and is placed near the steps in a Japanese garden.

This piece of recycled garden art is made from old car parts. It adds a bit of whimsy to the wildflower garden.

A beautiful piece of statuary is placed in a mixed border of flowers and shrubs.

A birdbath has a nice decorative form yet functions for the birds and as a water feature for the garden.

This copper water feature now functions as a planter on the wall of a house.
Always remember when buying decorations for the garden, look for items that will last, add function and can accent or become a focal point. Do not clutter up your garden with lots of pieces.You want garden visitors to enjoy your garden, the plants that grow there and all your hard work that went into making your garden. Less is More and Less is Best!

Happy Gardening!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Damage in the Garden

This winter was a tough one!  In my area, we have had very low temperatures, lots of snow and major extremes in wind chills. We have broken weather records of 30 to 40 years ago. We have had snow coverage most of the winter and guess what it is starting to do outside as I write this post? It is starting to snow, again. Am I ready for spring? You bet!
As tough as this weather has been on people, it has been harder on the plants in the garden. We can stay inside, snug and warm, while our plants suffer outside. Most of my plants are dormant and under the ground. With snow coverage, they are insulated from the low temperatures, but for many shrubs and trees, this winter has been and continues to be difficult. 
When the weather allows, I walk around the garden and observe my plants. I have found one small tree that is now dead and several others that are not looking very good. I know that there was nothing that I could have done to save them. I plan to leave them in the ground, hope for a miracle and wait to see what spring brings. One of the trees that I lost was a cedar that had been in the garden for about three years.  It was for my zone, due to a recent zone change, but one that I knew could be a problem if we had a very BAD winter.

Starting next week we should see a nice warm up and some of the snow should melt away. That will be a good time to survey the garden for winter damage. If you start surveying your garden for winter damage, be aware that some damage will not show up until summer. Look for broken or dead limbs, cracking of bark on trees, lack of new growth, bark damage due to animals and browning of needles, leaves or buds. If you have lots of browning, the plant may not be able to recover fully due to it's weaken state. When warm weather returns, study your garden plants and decide what you will need to do to get your garden back on track for the new growing season.

Happy Gardening and Happy Valentine's Day!


Friday, February 7, 2014

What I Have Learned From My Garden

The other day I was cleaning up and organizing years of old photos in my computer. It is a big job and I am still not completely done, but it was fun to look back on how my garden had changed over the years and enjoy some blooms on a cold winter day. It made me start to think about what I have learned from my garden over the years. I have learned lots!
Like most gardeners, we are always sharing information with other gardeners, but you never think about what your garden shares with you as a gardener. Here are a few things that my garden has taught me.

  • Be patient - A garden takes time to grow and change. It is a project that will never be done.
  • Stop and smell the roses - Sometimes you need to stop worrying about weeds and all the other chores that need to be done in the garden. The weeds will be there tomorrow. Sit down and just enjoy it!
  • Gardens are not perfect! - You may have a plan, but Mother Nature will have hers.
  • Be creative - Your garden reflects you and your style. You do not have to follow the design rules. Some of the best gardens, did not have a plan.
  • Listen, watch and learn from your garden - It will tell you what it needs. Have you ever seen a wildflower field in full bloom or a forest full of ferns and wildflowers blooming. Mother Nature did not use chemicals to achieve that.
  • If your garden is full of insects, birds and other forms of wildlife, you must be doing something right - If you don't have or have a limited amount of insects, worms and other types of wildlife, ask yourself "Why"?
  • You can't save everything - You may want to save that annual for next year's garden, but it may not be worth the time and effort. Every plant has it's time in the garden - let it go!
  • Some plants will die! - If you plant something and it dies, try again! Remember to evaluate location, soil, light, and water, then try again. After three times - give it up!
  • Always remember that diversity in the garden is a good thing!
  • All things will come with time and a budget!
  • Wildlife needs to eat too! - If wildlife or insects damage your plants, they are doing what they need to do to survive. Your garden is their supermarket and they like shopping there.
That is what I have learned from my garden. Share in the comments section, what you have learned from your garden!
Happy Gardening!

'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood

Years ago, I purchased a very small tree that was only 6 to 8 inches tall. It was a 'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood. It had beau...