Guest Post by Landscape Designer Thomas Mickey
I see a garden where the owner has spent money on plants, but the garden needs maintenance – the only way to a healthy and pleasing garden.
may be important that people have a lawn and a garden. We know that and can
understand that. What we have a hard time with is when people plant something
and don’t take care of it. The question
of maintenance is more important than most people realize. I have heard it said
that 90% of gardening us weeding, I agree.
you are going to put in a lawn or garden, then arrange how you will maintain it, as
well. Will you mulch, fertilize, water, trim, prune?
are living plants that get bigger, and take up more space as they grow. Perhaps we don’t always realize that.
the first issue is how big will the plant get at a mature size? That may come
sooner than you expect. If you need to,
choose a smaller variety of the plant so it will not become so overpowering.
second is what kind of maintenance does
the plant need. It may need to be regularly pruned so that it does not take
over the small garden where it is currently planted. If the plant needs pruning, get the right
tools and learn how to prune.
third issue might be dividing a plant like a perennial when it is too big. A clematis recta I have in my garden has
taken over the spot. It looks too big. It has been there for over ten years,
and I have never divided it. In the same
small garden is a phlox which I did divide at the end of the spring this year.
The area looks much better.
am not a believer in deadheading. It seems like more work, but it does make the
garden look better, more in order. So
perhaps some plants need to be deadheaded after they bloom. Don’t deadhead
clematis vines since you want the seed head to show.
these principles I just laid out are
issues any gardener has to think about, but I was just confronted with my own
garden maintenance problem.
had just been away for over a week and discovered powdery mildew on my white
Phlox paniculata. You can see the photo here. The leaves were white! I used a wonderful “sure-fire” cure
recommended by the most recent edition of one of my favorite publications “The
Avant Gardener”. Here it is: 1 tablespoon dormant oil, l heaping tablespoon
baking soda, and ½ teaspoons insecticidal soap (I used regular liquid dish soap
since the amount was so low) per gallon. Sprayed the concoction a few times
over several days. Worked just great. A real consequence of maintenance!
when you think of maintenance, think of what you need to do to keep things
looking good. Don’t put in any new plant till you make sure what you have looks
good. I think the name of the game
of gardening is maintenance.
Thomas Mickey is a Master Gardener and
landscape designer from Rye, NH.
Photo: Powdery mildew makes this phlox paniculata stand out in my garden, and not
because of the flowers.