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Old 02-02-2021, 10:40 AM
 
1,233 posts, read 1,553,398 times
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Tis the Season - to be planning Spring and Summer Gardens

I have haphazardly and expensively purchased seeds, bulbs, and plants from local nurseries, adding a few random purchases from various garden catalogs, for over ten years. Results, though occasionally entertaining, have been much less than expected. I wanted colorful, fragrant, pollinator-attractive, and culinarily useful results but my self-planned gardens have proved somewhat disappointing.

I live in US Garden Zone 7b. I have 1/10th of an acre in front that receives 6-8 hours of sun a day. I have another 1/10th of an acre in the back of my house that receives full sun for about two hours a day, dappled shade for four hours a day and deep shade for the rest.

I would like a colorful pollinator garden. I particularly love fragrant gardens and useful plants I can use in cooking are a huge plus. I looked online through multiple garden catalogs, but preplanned gardens seem to get negative reviews because they do not seem to successfully come up the next year. I realize actual results depends heavily on care-taking. I add compost in the Spring, and water at least once a week.

I don't want to put obsessive thought and planning into this, I am looking for suggestions for nonprofessional hobby gardeners.

I am grateful for your advice.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:19 PM
 
Location: West Coast U.S.A.
1,958 posts, read 595,375 times
Reputation: 2557
Gardening author Rosalind Creasy has written quite a few books about edible landscaping. This one might be useful:

https://www.amazon.com/Edible-Landsc...l-text&sr=1-14

High Country Gardens has some beautiful pre-planned gardens on their website. It would take a black thumb to kill those plants because they are chosen for toughness, drought tolerance (usually) and long-lasting beauty.

https://www.highcountrygardens.com

Their prices tend to run high, but they claim to carry XL-sized plants. I don't know if that's true because I've never ordered from them, but you can get your plants somewhere else if you want. Here's an online source list:

https://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/#b
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Old 02-02-2021, 09:51 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis, East Side
2,087 posts, read 1,048,214 times
Reputation: 5128
If you don't want to rely on trial and error, you'll have to put in the time and effort to research and plan. Even then, you'll probably need to make some changes.

Colorful, fragrant and edible usually goes with sunny; cool and shady usually goes with green. The best host plants for pollinators are natives for your area. Then there's the whole issue of putting it all together attractively. It sounds like you have a small suburban lot, so the overall appearance (at least in the front) will be important.

Your local library, county extension office and plant societies should be able to help you.
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Old 02-04-2021, 06:12 AM
Status: "No longer very optimistic." (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
41,199 posts, read 51,004,455 times
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What I do is browse the catalogs for plants that fit my climate and light situations, then buy the plants locally. When I lived in the Midwest, I loved to get plants from a few New England nurseries, but now I wouldn’t dare.

I live in zone 8b-9 so the summers here are brutal, but the season is long. I study on the flowers and shrubs that thrive on neglect in commercial areas, like parking lots or fast food businesses. Some of them have beautiful plants which nobody fusses over.

Like sheerbliss said, your county extension service is all about helping gardeners be successful. The first thing they will ask you is to get a soil sample. Here, this costs about $8. It’s all about acid/alkaline. You cannot grow a plant successfully with a soil with the wrong Ph.
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Old 02-04-2021, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
28,164 posts, read 18,507,188 times
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Put the backbone of your plantings in first. This would be small trees and shrubs. Then fill in with perennials that like your climate and the sunny exposure you have. I like the idea of talking with your county extension service, and I would also recommend talking to local, established nurseries.

Before making big changes, enrich your soil. That’s where getting a soil sample would help, especially if you have no idea about what kind of soil you have.

You could also join a local garden club,
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Old 02-04-2021, 06:02 PM
Status: "No longer very optimistic." (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
41,199 posts, read 51,004,455 times
Reputation: 71247
Quote:
Originally Posted by silibran View Post
Put the backbone of your plantings in first. This would be small trees and shrubs. Then fill in with perennials that like your climate and the sunny exposure you have. I like the idea of talking with your county extension service, and I would also recommend talking to local, established nurseries.

Before making big changes, enrich your soil. That’s where getting a soil sample would help, especially if you have no idea about what kind of soil you have.

You could also join a local garden club,
I tried my local garden club, but everyone was ancient and someone extolled the virtue of rubber mulch. If you can go to a master garden course, even if you can’t make the volunteer commitment, you will learn things.
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Old 02-04-2021, 09:38 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis, East Side
2,087 posts, read 1,048,214 times
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I learned a lot from plant societies. I belonged to a rose society when I lived in Denver and they taught me how to select, plant, grow and propagate roses. The society here in Indy suggested some shrub roses that have done beautifully, and Keep Indy Beautiful teaches their volunteers how to plant trees. No big commitment--you just have to show up for a few hours to--well, plant some trees.

Nurseries are hit or miss. The people working there may or may not know much, and probably a big part of their business is replacement plants.

Soil amendments depend on what you want to grow. Ornamentals and vegetables will probably need some compost in the soil, but native plants chosen for the site (soil, light, wetness) shouldn't need anything but tilling. Overly rich soil may make them floppy.

The first thing I'd do is draw a plan of your lot. If you have a survey, copy it. If not, use Google satellite view. Mark north and draw in any existing plants you want to keep.

People always tell me I have a green thumb. Really, the main thing I do is select appropriate plants for the site. That's 95% of my success. When you do that, you don't have to constantly fuss over your plants and fight Mother Nature. But back when I volunteered at nurseries to help people select roses, customers would describe what they needed (something cold hardy and low-maintenance), and I'd steer them towards a nice shrub rose. 99% of the time, they ended up buying tender, fussy plants bred for flower shows instead. And they probably had to replace them the next year.
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Old Yesterday, 08:26 PM
 
Location: Prescott AZ
6,628 posts, read 10,180,681 times
Reputation: 13058
We have a very old nursery here that has been going on for decades. The now-owner is dedicated and holds classes every Saturday on different topics. Of course they hope you will buy their plants and even pay to have them planted. But the classes are free and you can take your info from class and go on your merry way to a cheaper box store if you want to.

I came from Phoenix where everything fried in the sun to this 7b climate where everything grows ! The classes helped me tremendously.
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Old Today, 01:08 AM
 
1,812 posts, read 731,306 times
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My garden has evolved. That doesn't bother me, all the planting and replanting and moving things about since I enjoy it and some plants thrive and others don't. I avoid planting just one or two things, masses and waves seem to work best in an "English country/cottage garden" kind of style with layers. I have learned to pay attention to leaf texture and color, border depth, with a few small shrubs to anchor it in the middle, some verticality - I was using a tripod with annual vines, but I am using now a Rose of Sharon trained as a standard. For some its too chaotic and they like order, but order doesn't give me the freedom to experiment.

Herbs like sage and rosemary can be small shrubs and the latter respond well to be turned into a standard (and its easily rooted from cuttings).

The north side of my house is a strip of property about 15' wide by 40 long. The HVAC is there so its moist. It took a few years to decide what to do with it. Ferns are volunteering, so its just going to be a shade shrub garden: mahonia under the windows, azaleas, volunteer holly trees and hydrangea.

Some types of plants have formal clubs which have annual sales such as the iris club. If you have a local nursery, perhaps they have one or two Saturdays a year where these local clubs are invited to set up and sell their wares. I have also seen some folks advertise their overflow plants on craigslist.

The first year I will "baby" a plant, after that, its on its own.

A note about watering in zone 7 - not sure if its true - I have heard more than one experienced gardener tell me that for most plants at 85F and above, they stop growing; watering is only to keep them alive until the heat breaks and tap water is life support only since it is so chemically altered. Also be sure to get the soil tested not just for the PH, but also to ensure you have the right calcium levels, without that, fertilizer is useless.
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