I love January – it’s brrrr cold outside and there are no garden chores – maybe just planning for a beautiful Spring. I did turn in all the Spring flower orders to our wonderful grower…hard to believe they will start seedlings this month.

January is one of the months as a gardener that you can literally do nothing and not feel guilty about it. Of course you have to pay a little attention to water if Mother Nature doesn’t smile on us with rain or snow. But other than that, we can just relax and enjoy the cold days with a hot cup of tea and leftover treats from the holidays.

The garden and seed catalogs will begin arriving in your mailbox, as well as other garden and outdoor living catalogs. It’s fun to see what’s new with the trends in these. Wayside Gardens will tempt us with new species and varieties. We can just file these away for now – enjoy this quiet month.

Top Things to do in January

• As little as possible – you deserve a guilt-free break

Best of the Season

• Red Twig Dogwood, Deciduous Hollies laden with berries – and cardinals! I have a friend who has a special little buddy that shows up on the window seal of her living room – she has been putting his treats out on top of a stone pillar – he is fat and happy – and beautiful!

Holidays this year in Sweden – winter wonderland – breathtakingly beautiful!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

  • Keep it Simple by sticking to one garden style – don’t overdo it
  • Blend Hard Landscaping with your home – select materials that blend with your house. Choose colors carefully, and ideally, use the same materials as those used in the house or that are sympathetic to its age and character. I always say landscaping is nothing without great hardscaping.
  • Clean Lines Work Best – in most cases, suburban yards nearly always benefit from clean lines and layout based on geometry, rather than curves.
  • Anchor the garden with a focal point – arbors, trellises, benches, fountains, pools or structures help anchor the garden
  • Choose wider flower beds
  • Choose the right plant for the right spot – understand the plant habit – right size is key
  • Hide your fences with screening plants or climbers – small spaces appear larger with a greater sense of privacy
  • Big Plants in Small Spaces - One of the quickest ways to clutter up a small space is to use lots of small plants - the result feels busy, and overly energetic.
  • Color planning is critical – see my separate blog on Understanding Color.

Garden Plantings – Create a Tapestry

  • Color and texture are key
  • Design using plantings in mass – this applies to shrubs, perennials, annuals and groundcovers.
  • Large masses of a small number of different plants will provide greater color impact than small bunches of a great variety of different shrubs or flowers.
  • Gardens are often more spectacular when the masses are planted in drifts. This is where one large grouping of plants meshes with other groupings in the same bed.
  • Notice what is behind the flowers. A shrub background or structure can stop the eye and cause people to focus on the flowers.
  • Stair step the plant heights. Place the tallest plants in the back of the border and the shortest in front.

Garden Tips

I always try and weave all of the plants together – just like this.

Excellent shrub varieties providing color and texture…

  • Yew
  • Boxwood
  • Helmond Pillar Barberry (Crimson)
  • Goldmound Spirea (Gold)
  • Indian Hawthorne
  • Globosa Blue Spruce (Blue / Gray)
  • Nandina – especially dwarf varieties
  • Miniature and tree form Crepe Myrtle

Look at how these plants form interest through color and texture – these are beautiful in any landscape. I use these as my “go to” list in many garden designs.

Perennial Tips

Perennials for every garden

  • Purple Cone Flower
  • Scabiosa - pincushion flower
  • Salvia "May Night"
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Huechera
  • Rudbeckia
  • Nepata "Walker's Low"
  • Penstemmon
  • Dianthus

3 ways to be a better gardener

Landscape Roses – room in every garden…they bloom all summer…

  • Apple Blossom
  • White Carpet
  • Livin' Easy
  • Double Knock-out

...and always plant with Nepata 'Walkers Low' as companion

Lanscape Roses

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

A few thoughts on the most basic fundamentals of gardening and the importance of good garden design

  • You cannot control the weather or Mother Nature – but you do need to watch the weather; react to the weather and the forces and impact of good old Mother Nature.
  • The best advice I can give anyone wanting to improve their gardening skills is to pay attention to the things going on in your garden – because things are definitely going on.
  • Have a master plan – you have heard this many times – but really without it it’s like you’re on a road and have no idea where you are going.
  • The dirt or soil that you put your plants into is almost more important than the plant itself….a simple rule of thumb – put a $5 plant in a $10 hole!
  • Choose the right plant for the right spot - don’t be an impulsive buyer…it’s okay to be a plantaholic or hoarder (like me), but the plants need to fit into your garden design.
  • I have a rule that when I bring home new plants can an old non-specimen plant go out….better to have the “good stuff’.
  • Patience is important – don’t be tempted to purchase plants that grow fast…in the long run after a few years you will probably be removing them from your landscape.
  • Trial & Error” needs to be alive and well in the garden – this applies to color, texture, plants that you may be unfamiliar with. Remember plants can be moved. I have a friend, who is known to move hostas from one part of her garden to another all of the time. I think one hosta has been moved at least 5 times!

And the very best thing of all to keep in mind is that there is always the next season to look forward to….so you can…

  • Correct the mistakes you may have made
  • Alter your color combinations
  • Edit your plants / move them around or out of your garden
  • Review your overall design to see if it is working for you
  • Look for ways to improve your planting schemes - you are never done tweaking the garden to get it just right…

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -