Same Old, Same Old? Don’t Groundhog Day Your Landscape.

Tempus fugit, and it’s currently fugiting at an alarming pace.  I am recently returned from trips and conferences that swallowed up December and January in phases of preparation, execution and recovery, and Christmas is still sitting on the dining room table, neatly compartmentalized and just tidy enough to consider throwing a blanket over it till next December and eating off our laps for the rest of the year.

All this to say that February is upon us and there is much to be thought about for the growing season a mere six weeks away.  Regardless of what Phil has to say about it this morning, (ugh! #NotMyGroundhog – ed.) we’re going to be looking down the barrel of an explosive spring in a few short weeks and wondering how we got here again.

Growers are thinking of your growing season, even if you're not. (Costa Farms Trial Gardens Season Premier last month.)

Growers are thinking of your growing season, even if you’re not. (Costa Farms Trial Gardens Season Premier last month.)

Some gardeners will instinctively lapse into what they know: same seeds, same combinations, same compliments  – same season.  The only variation will be the weather, which will inevitably disappoint, as all things expected to repeat themselves inevitably do.  Others will use the season to stretch their skills and their plant palette and explore the term ‘growth’ in every sense of the word.

So the question for you is this:

Is today Groundhog Day in the classic, pre-1993 sense? Are you feeling energized and excited for the sights and sounds of spring 4-6 weeks away? Or will you be approaching it in a Murray-esque frame of mind – doing the same old thing in the same old way for the same old result?

Once you’ve discovered a plant or combination that works – why not try working it in a different place, or adding to it?

It is natural to want to hold on to ideas that work, and I do believe that the home gardener should operate within a dependable framework – for sanity’s sake if nothing else.  After all, this isn’t Chanticleer and no one will chastise you for using Kosmic Kale in your containers two years in a row.  (How those horticulturists put together stunning one-of-a-kind container combinations every year is beyond me. – ed.) But once you’ve discovered a plant or combination that works – why not try working it in a different place, or adding to it?

For instance:

  • You’ve figured out that verbenas come to life in the heat of summer. Why not take a few out of the containers that grow them every year and create a big accent at the end of a graveled pathway? Same, but different.
  • You love the solidity and beauty of a large ceramic pot on your porch, but you always put it to the right of the door. Put it to the left of the door and group it with a few others of varying heights.  Same but different.
  • You’ve finally realized that in your garden beds, colorful foliage lasts all season (unlike petunias). Why not use something unexpected in your deck containers like ‘Ascot Rainbow’ euphorbia and pair it with a dependable beautiful annual you use every year such as ‘Superbells® Saffron’ calibrachoa? Same, but different.
  • You grow tomatoes every year, and they love your soil and exposure. Why not try some dwarf varieties and see if you can lose the cages? Same but different.
Great plant. Ridiculous price. Allowed me the opportunity to experiment with new combos last year.

Great plant. Ridiculous price. Allowed me the opportunity to experiment with new combos last year.

It’s rearranging the furniture of your garden – it’s experimenting and growing as a gardener and as a creative individual.  It changes the “Why am I doing this again?” to “I can’t wait to do this again.”

I’m not insinuating that changing out your shrubbery will suddenly bring Andie MacDowell into your life; but making a few adjustments this year could reinvigorate your attitude towards your landscape and why you pick up that trowel every spring.

If you’re feeling bored and you haven’t even started, that might be a hint that you’re approaching your garden in the wrong way. With seed starting and online shopping just starting to get underway, it’s important to recognize this pitfall before you’re doomed to repeat it another year.


This article is reprinted with permission by The Frederick News Post

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By | 2018-02-20T20:40:51+00:00 February 2nd, 2017|

About the Author:

Marianne is the mother of two, wife of one and the voice of The Small Town Gardener. She gardens and writes from her home in the scenic (and exceptionally convenient) heart of Virginia's wine country.

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