It’s catalog time! A fun way to spend a blustery afternoon is to curl up with a hot drink and peruse the latest seed and mail-order plant catalogs. My all time favorite is high Country Gardens (they also have a great web site). It’s great to imagine all the beautiful plant combinations that could be gracing your garden next summer, but before you actually place the order and write your check you might want to stop and consider just why you are buying a new plant. The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Plant Smart! Six Steps to Choosing Perfect Plants
There are two basic motives for buying a plant: need and want. What’s the difference?
Plants that you need are those that are used architecturally to solve problems in the landscape. Plants that you want are those that are used as decoration in the landscape. If you can combine these two motives and select a plant that is both useful and decorative you will be more satisfied with your purchase.
Here are some examples of architectural uses of plants:
To control environmental factors such as sun, wind, or noise. This is all about creating a comfortable space where you can enjoy being outdoors in any season.
To create privacy. Nobody wants to live in a fishbowl! Your outdoor space should be your place to get away.
To enhance or screen views. Framing an extended view will expand your vista and enlarge your visual space, allowing you to take advantage of “borrowed” landscapes. Partially screening a view can help develop a sense of mystery to the landscape and draw people into it. And, of course, completely screening an ugly view just makes sense!
To control soil erosion. Gentle slopes may be stabilized by using appropriate plants to hold the soil.
To direct traffic or circulation. Keep people or pets where you want them with strategic plant placement.
Almost everyone has to deal with at least one of these issues in their landscape. Plants can be used individually or in combinations as beautiful, economical solutions.
Here are some examples of decorative uses of plants:
To create “curb appeal” for your home. Set the stage for a warm welcome for yourself and your guests. Maintain and/or enhance the value of your real estate.
To add complexity to existing plantings. Layers of a variety of plantings, as opposed to a single row of plants, will give you that lush, magazine or resort look.
To add new color, texture, or fragrance to a specific location in your landscape. Sometimes just a single, well chosen plant will add new pizzazz to an existing planting.
To attract wildlife, birds or butterflies. Bring your garden to life with movement, song and color.
The desire to beautify our surroundings and make a personal imprint on the land is a very strong part of human nature. So have fun with catalog season but remember to Plant Smart!
First up: a lecture to fellow landscape professionals at the ProGreen EXPO here in Denver. On Wednesday, January 23rd I’ll be speaking on Color Theory for Gardens and Landscapes. It’s an introduction to color vocabulary, the color wheel, and color harmonies based on the color wheel. There are many people working in the green industry who don’t have any basic art background, and color can be down right scary sometimes (or so I’ve been told)! I finally have enough digital photos (and a few favorite old slides scanned) to put this lecture into Power Point. Yea! I’ve joined the 21st century!
Next: a mini-trade show for consumers will be hosted by Echter’s Garden Center in Arvada. March 7-9 I’ll be chatting it up with garden lovers about landscape design, great plants, and the new service I’m offering this year, garden coaching (more to come on that subject)! I hope to see you there.
Finally: the big enchilada---on April 1st my book manuscript for Plant Smart! Six Steps to Choosing Perfect Plants is due to the publisher---yikes! Actually, I’ve made great progress these last couple of months and am beginning to see the end in sight. I’ve had some thoughtful critiques from early readers, so I’m looking forward to working with my editor on the next phase.
Here’s wishing you new challenges, adventures, and growth (ha-ha) in 2008!