Simplicity is a key to the Sperry home landscape, and nothing is simpler than our garden at rest following a winter snowfall. Photo by Neil Sperry.
This Car Is Getting Some Miles
No doubt in my mind, gardening is the world’s best hobby. And I have the blessing of writing and talking about that hobby, my passion and my pastime. Our magazine is 27 years old with this issue, and six weeks ago we mailed my 30th annual Texas Gardening Calendar. As January begins, I’m starting my 36th year in garden-talk radio (plus seven years before that with the Extension Service).
During that time, I’ve seen tens of thousands of gardens and gardeners, some of them beautiful (the gardens, that is), some of them not so much so. I’ve learned the tricks that people use to succeed with their plantings, and I’ve seen where they fall short. Here are six gleanings.
- Have a plan for your plantings. Know each plant’s cultural needs and its mature size. As with marriage, you don’t want to find out eight or 10 years down the road that you’ve made a bad choice. Think it all through.
- Know “how plants grow.” Don’t worry so much about “how to grow plants.” Prof. A.F. DeWerth taught me that about a hundred years ago at Texas A&M, and I’ve never forgotten it. If you think about what a plant encounters where it grows natively, you’ll have a much better idea of whether it’s going to thrive under your care.
- Learn to “read” your plants. It doesn’t take long to scan your eyes over your landscape and garden, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll learn to recognize early signs of drought or invasion of pests. Look for the subtle signals that show up long before problems get serious.
- Keep things simple. You’ll never have to apologize for a tasteful, uncluttered design. It’s when we add too many wiggles to the walk and curves to the curbstone that we gaudy things up. Oh, it’s possible to have what my wife calls a “busy” landscape that is, at the same time, attractive. But, it’s also quite easy to end up with too much going on.
- Landscapes are never completed. They’re ongoing living and breathing creatures. Don’t be afraid to remove plantings that no longer carry their share of the load. If you’ve gotten 10 or 20 years of good out of a shrub bed, it’s not the end of the world if you have to pull and replace the plants. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll enjoy the new look.
Finally, half of your success in gardening depends on doing the right things. The other half depends on doing them at the correct time. That’s why I did my first annual Texas Gardening Calendar, never knowing if there would be a second. At the time that I’m typing this, I have no idea whether we will have any copies of the 2013 calendar left, but if we do, you might find it useful. If you’re interested, check my website or call our office (800-752-4769).
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