It helps to assess before planting

Now that another gardening season is in full gear, so is the frequency of making trips to garden centers, and while I hate to admit, for me it is at times not to miss the fun. True, excitement and temptation can override reality, so a lesson I have learned after losing  plants bought on impulse is to assess the available space, soil and light conditions, and the microclimate of the garden before yielding to temptation.

I remember some years back what a struggle it became for us to find a suitable location for a lovely but pot-bound encore azalea we had, which was in dire need to be in the ground. Azaleas, we know, prefer to be grown in partial shade. Desperate as we were, the only choice left was to dig an existing perennial to make room for the azalea, though, at the end, the plan seems to have worked well: the azalea is now well-established and the tough perennial we thought we had sacrificed, comes back every spring, more than ever before. Also, like azaleas, since most of the nearby vegetation consists of acid-loving plants, it certainly is easier to take care of this part of the garden, in particular applying the right fertilizer.  

Although not always doable, but it does help to group together annuals, perennials and other plants with similar cultural requirement such as sun versus shade, drought resistance and pH of the soil. For instance, plants which like to be watered frequently might be difficult to raise if grown in the vicinity of the ones that do not. Also, it increases the efficiency of the gardener substantially to grow plants with high water needs close to the source of irrigation so that watering is not such a chore.

For successful gardening, it is true that location is just as crucial as finding the right plant; although I don’t do it as much, but at one stage of my gardening ventures, I think I spent more time and effort moving plants around until satisfied than tending to them. Therefore, assess before planting and if unsure, feel free to talk to other gardeners, associates at garden centers, or consult a good book. Also, one can call the Chesterfield Extension Office where one of the master gardeners is always willing to help.             

Gita’s Tip of the Month: Some winter-dormant vegetation, including our fig tree, is taking longer to put new growth due to the harsh winter we had. So, be patient and don’t give up; in fact, upon looking closely, we can now see green buds sprouting here and there on the old woody stems as weather is warming up.

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