The Garden Corner

The Garden Corner by Sharon Allen May is going to be a very busy month. For me, that means transplanting seedlings, planting flower and vegetable seeds, dividing perennials, weeding flower beds, keeping seedlings moist, mulching, rejuvenating the soil (adding a layer of compost), and conducting my first gardening class (I know I must be forgetting something).

For those of you who are planning new perennial borders, here are a few simple "rules" to keep in mind:

* Step 1 � Determine the points of viewing. You want to place the beds in areas of high visibility such as the front yard or in areas easily viewed from the inside of your house (near windows, porch or patio).

* Step 2 � Consider existing conditions. There are probably existing plants that you want to keep and other permanent or temporary fixtures such as a compost pile, fences, water spigot, trash barrels, septic tanks and drain fields, and underground sprinkling systems.

My garden fork continually finds the underground sprinkling system, unfortunately. Be aware that you must locate susceptible plants (such as peonies) 60 feet from such trees as black walnut and butternut that produce a chemical in their roots that is toxic to many plants. In your inventory of your landscape note other growing conditions such as soil types, drainage, available sun and moisture and exposure to winds.

* Step 3 � Choose either an informal or formal style. An informal style follows the natural terrain by using curved, flowing lines. It creates balance without being symmetrical and highlights existing and future plant specimens. A formal style uses straight, geometric lines to determine the shape of the bed. It often relies of symmetry. Most decisions are simply a matter of personal preference, but your yard or style and age of your home may dictate the type of garden that would look best.

* Decide on the type of display (border, island bed or naturalized area). A border is a cultivated area bounding an expanse such as a lawn, walkway, driveway or property line. If it is flush against a wall or hedge, the border should not be any wider than 4 to 6 feet for ease of maintenance. For a wider border, plan to use a path. An island bed is a cultivated area surrounded by an open expanse, such as a lawn. It is accessible from all sides, making it easier to maintain. It admits more sunlight and encourages better air circulation.

* Select the plants. Make a list of your favorites. Consider the space limitation of the site; would smaller, compact plants be appropriate or taller plants? Do not limit yourself to perennials. Consider shrubbery and dwarf evergreen for year-round interest (remember perennials die down to the ground every fall).

Bits and pieces

A reminder of my gardening classes to be held at USDSU � the dates are June 1, 10 a.m. to noon (container gardening), July 13, 10 a.m. to noon (encouraging/discouraging critters from your yard), Aug. 3, 10 a.m. to noon (accessible gardening).

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