How many of you have been looking at seed catalogs and planning what you want to grow in your gardens this spring? Having a Grand Plan of what you want to do in your space is the best thing you can do to maximize effort and minimize costs & can be as simple as making a few notes in a notebook. With a good set of plans you can garden for success! I’m going to have a Wedding here in September – got to plan for that.

The photo above is the largest/oldest Live Oak on the property. The previous owners held their daughter’s wedding here so they called it the Wedding Tree. We’ve always called it the Party Tree, but in September it will be a Wedding Tree again♥️ It just needs a little work to raise the canopy a little so that Sam’s veil doesn’t get caught up in the branches.

Ideas to Help You Develop a Gardening Plan

There’s a theme here – natural, native, healthy, relaxed, chemical free. Might not suit everyone, but I think it’s a good way to garden:

  • Encourage Wildlife – plant more natives; reduce/cut out use of chemicals; use natural fertilizers instead of chemicals
  • Beautiful environment for Leisure/Relaxation – for less work, more fun plant natives; learn to love a “less perfect” garden that’s more natural; enjoy the wildlife that will come and entertain you – birds, butterflies etc
  • Growing Veggies – learn about companion plants eg marigolds with tomatoes to reduce need for insecticides etc; make compost to enrich your soil
  • Reduce Water Use – plant natives and herbs; learn about Xeriscaping

My Spring Planting Plans

Native plantings is the cornerstone of my “Grand Plan” to have a healthy biodiverse and wildlife friendly environment. This year I also have to plan for Henry & Samantha’s September Wedding in my backyard – I want the place to look beautiful for the wedding guests.

Those of you that really know me understand that I’m really stingy when it comes to watering the garden. Once plants are established I really leave them to the whims of the weather. That’s not going to work this year, so I’ll need to make sure that the beds around the house have a good weekly watering through the summer.

I generally prefer to sow seeds directly into the ground and use Spring Break as a guide for doing this. If you remember last year, February was lovely and I had beans and cucumbers coming up just as a late frost struck! I’m going to stick to my “Spring Break Rule” this year.

Below is a summary of my gardening plans for this year

  • Finish developing Hugel Mounds
  • Fill beds with easy native plants and herbs
  • Check trees for pruning needs in the summer eg raising the canopy if necessary (Wedding prep)
  • Water weekly through the summer (Wedding prep)
  • Regular mowing of grassy areas (Wedding prep)

Actions

  • February work is finishing trimming back my lantanas, salvias, sages, herbs etc. Cut them back now and you’ll get nice bushy growth in the next few months.
  • All the woody waste has been recycled into the Hugel Mounds I’ve been making. Wood at the bottom of the mounds, then chicken litter/poop, then homemade compost, then plants.
  • Stuart and I did quite a bit of tree trimming late December but didn’t get around to finishing what was needed. Several of the large Live Oaks will need their canopies raised so that no-one gets injured walking around/under them. This will be done high summer and the cut branches will be painted immediately to prevent Oak Wilt.
  • My “lawn” mainly consist of native grasses and wildflowers. Once the wildflowers have seeded themselves I’ll regularly mow these areas so they stay trim and neat. Not too neat though – the lawnmower blade will be set on it’s highest setting. This will also help protect the ground from erosion (if it rains heavily) and the summer heat.
  • Fill hanging baskets with seasonal annuals a week or so before the wedding.
  • Weeding while we’re having rain, the ground is soft and it’s easier to pull weeds up. I’m not too worried about weed although I have several beds that are in need of a good tidy up. Pre wedding I’ll just get some new mulch and spread it around to hide any “troublesome areas”.

Problems

I’m not really anticipating any problems with my plans beyond forgetting to water the garden over summer. It’s just a lot of hard work right now getting everything trimmed back & ready for new growth. I’m probably going to empty my compost bins, even using the “not quite ready” compost in the Hugel Mounds.

New Hugel mounds look like huge burial sites! Especially as I used rocks around the base as a way of tidying up rocks which were just lying around looking messy! Gave the kids a laugh!

1st Hugel Mound – just planted with a little lavender, rosemary and salvia right now. More to come!

A big patch of Rosemary is desperately in need of a major trim. As with many herbs, if you don’t keep them trimmed they’ll grow, flop over and leave a bare, woody center to the bush. Regular and hard trimming will encourage growth from the center and the Rosemary will keep a nice shape.

The problem is that the Rosemary is blooming and my honeybees are feeding on it & collecting pollen for their new brood. In a couple of weeks there will be more in bloom for the bees and I won’t worry so much. But for now I’m having to cut it back a bit at a time.

Happy Spring Gardening – plan for success and let me know what you’re doing in your gardens this Spring.

Caroline xo


2 Comments

cathy · February 16, 2020 at 11:24 am

A wedding! That’s so exciting!

This spring I’m going to try expanding my native plantings to take up the last little bit of turf grass lawn I still have. I have a homeowner’s association to contend with so I’ve gone about the conversion gradually, and (at LAST!) have a good variety of deer-resistant AND rabbit-resistant native plants in the front yard. The only thing left to deal with, somehow, is the bare patch in the front that is under the oaks, which also gets shade from the house. The standard-issue foundation shrubs struggle so badly there, and no ground cover will grow in that deep shade, which also means a lot of rain erosion. I’m tempted to replace it all with horse herb and turk’s cap, but am looking for ideas that are more imaginative.

Of course I am also fighting my never-ending battle with the nandina and the Mexican petunia.

    Caroline Broderick · February 24, 2020 at 11:41 am

    I hate Nandina too. Took a long while and an awful lot of effort to remove all the nandina the previous owners planted. I still have one tiny little bit of it in the middle of a Red Yucca – may have to sacrifice the yucca!
    How about some Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) for your shade area. I haven’t grown it here but believe it to be quite deer resistant & it’s so pretty. Inland Sea Oats might work too – native grass that likes shade.

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