The Smartest Gardening Decision I Ever Made

Monday, Jul 21, 2014

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When I was a kid, gardening seemed pretty straight-forward to me. My mother planted the seeds or flowers and they grew. She didn’t fuss over them. We always had a bumper crop of vegetables (oh the bushels of beans I remember picking!) and the flowers around the house seemed to thrive.

When I got married I was excited to have my own gardens to take care of but have discovered over the years, though, that gardening isn’t as simple as planting and watering. Too often I’ve had high hopes at the beginning of a growing season only to have disappointment creep in as the summer passes. Insects, drought, blight, and rock-hard clay soil have challenged my poor little plants.

But over the years I’ve learned a few things and my thumb is now a little greener than it was when I first started gardening on my own. I’ve come to appreciate perennials, mulch, and compost. I’ve learned that zone 4 plants are fine but zone 5 plants aren’t worth the risk in southern Ontario. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that perennials look better when planted in masses rather than a hodge podge of many different types.

In the long run, buying perennials saves money over buying annuals each year, but the upfront cost can be staggering. And this is where I got smart. We desperately needed plants around our house but our budget was small. I went to the local nursery, looked at all the beautiful plants and came home with only one. It was an “Annabelle” hydrangea. 

It was small but it had a big job to do. I planted it, watered it, and waited for a couple of years. It grew, and grew some more. And then I dug it up, divided it into four and planted those four. I waited a couple more years, dug those four plants up, divided them into 16 plants and planted those. And this is what “Annabelle” looks like today. Isn’t she pretty!

My patience paid off. I’ve been able to give “Annabelle” to my daughters so she is growing in their gardens too. “Annabelle” grows well in sun, or even in part shade. This garden is under a red maple and maples are very thirsty and cast dense shade so growing anything under them is a challenge. “Annabelle” is doing fine here.

“Annabelle” makes a great cut flower! The trick to keeping the blooms from wilting is, immediately after cutting, to burn the cut end. This will keep the flowers looking good for about one week.

So, if you’re feeling a bit discouraged about your garden, just remember that sometimes gardens just need a bit of care, a bit of time, and a gardener with a vision and lots of patience.

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