We’ve been in Kentucky visiting my parents this week, and their yard is especially pretty this time of year. (Plus, their house was recently on a local garden tour so they’ve been working extra hard on the details.)
As confident as I usually feel about my interior decorating decisions, I feel as equally unconfident when it comes to making things pretty on the outside. I spent some time following my dad around, asking him a bunch of questions and taking pictures. And, I talked him into sharing some of his best tips and ideas for all of us wannabe gardeners if I promised to add the disclaimer that he’s not a professional; just a very enthusiastic hobbyist. :)
Pinch the tips. (And water. Duh.) This is what he repeats to me more than anything else. Everything grows from the tips, so if you want your plants to get bigger, pinch off new growth and it will create more. And he still feels the need to tell me to water regularly. I can’t imagine why. . .
Shop with a list at your local nursery or garden center. While I usually go and pick things up on a whim because they’re pretty (in the store), my dad says he studies photos of pretty pots and looks for specific flowers when he shops. Preparing before a trip to the garden center is a new concept for me.
Shop clearance plants. My dad loves to rescue plants from the clearance racks (specifically at Lowe’s). He’s gotten some great deals because someone at the store has neglected to water. He also tries to pick up evergreen trees (like the Colorado blue spruce below) for a few dollars after Christmas. He’ll pot them for a few years and then transplant them to his yard.
This is a foxtail fern, by the way. I’d never seen one but now it’s on my list.
He uses blueberry plants for backdrops. He says this isn’t really a groundbreaking idea, but I took pictures so I would remember that there are really no rules for what you can mix into your beds. He tied his up to this trellis when it became too heavy. (The blueberries are a bonus if he can beat the birds to them.)
Mix in topiary forms. I remember when we bought these swan forms together years ago at a home decor outlet. I tried to grow ivy in mine and probably didn’t water it. Anyway, it looked terrible and I gave him mine. Now that he’s grown boxwood in his for years, I kind of want mine back. . . :)
Grow an herb garden in a couple of pots. Looks lush and is easy to grab for cooking. He reminded me (several times) to pinch any flowering parts off of my herbs.
Dahlias and zinnias are his favorites for adding color. I love how he’s added color all around, in beds and in planters. He says dahlias are also great for cutting. I tried a few of these this year and mine didn’t multiply like his. He says it’s because I’m not pinching the dead ones off or watering enough. . . I try.