Many of us were first exposed to nature and what it has to offer, by watching our parents or grandparents tend their beautiful gardens during the summer days of our youth. Their love for the earth and having the ability to step out into the garden and cut a glorious fresh bouquet for the dining room table or picking a handful of fresh berries ripening in the warm summer sun outside the back door is what instilled a lifelong passion of gardening in us.
As we mature, our appreciation of growing fruit, flowers, and vegetables seems to deepen. Maybe because it helps us to recall the good memories of years gone by; or, maybe it’s because we just value being close to home. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure; as young gardeners, we could amend, weed, plot and plant from sun-up ‘til sun-down. Our tired muscles could be soothed over night by soaking in a hot bath…. only to rise to do it all again the next day.
Now, as seasoned gardeners, we do not heal overnight, we need to take frequent breaks and we must be realistic about our strengths and limitations. Here are a few tips to help reduce the amount of work your garden demands from you and still have a beautiful landscape to enjoy.
REDUCE AND REPLACE
Perennial gardens can require a high level of maintenance. Needing to divide and thin numerous varieties is strenuous and time consuming. It may be necessary to adapt your gardens style in order to reduce the amount of work required to keep it looking great. Consider replacing some of your perennials with shrubs. Shrubs come in a variety of sizes and bloom times and if you plan well, you can still enjoy flowering throughout the season and have plenty of diversity in form and size. When planting, use care to space them for their mature size, this information is available on the plant label. Look for roses, and shrubs that are recognized as “low care selections” with long bloom windows.
|REJECT and RESTRICT
When you can no longer spend hour upon hour manicuring the landscape any longer, due to an arthritic hip or bum knee, just shrug it off and reject perfection! Mother Nature does not clean up every last leaf in autumn and you don’t have to either. Dead foliage left under the shrubs serves very well as natural mulch, which will break down and add wonderful nutrients to the soil. The perfectly clipped hedges that you have taken such pride in over the years can be kept “tidy” with a light trimming instead of relentlessly fussing over them to keep them in line. There’s no doubt but that annuals add plenty of spark to the landscape, but perhaps the days of planting on your hands and knees are behind you. Restrict your planting of annuals to a few planters or hanging baskets for an added pop of color. A small grouping of containers will allow for more manageable watering and deadheading.
REST… and relax
Be sure to incorporate a few sitting areas within the landscape and take time to rest frequently when working in the garden. After all, one of the reasons you have taken such delight in this passion over the years is the wonder and beauty of it all.