Six Garden Ideas


I know nothing about gardening, but this year I’m going to give it a go (do a few pots of tomatoes and a patch of basil count?), so I turned to someone who knows, well, pretty much everything! Christine Darnell, principal of her eponymous garden design company, is a Master Gardener with an MS in Landscape Design. She does it all, from consults to master plans and installation. I like her simple, smart and direct approach and she’s shared Six Garden Ideas, to get you inspired for Spring.

1. Think simple: When it comes to colors, simplicity is always in style. Instead of an array of colors, plant “drifts” of a single hue. In containers, accent a single color with white, or combine just two colors, like green and white. For window boxes, try using only purple and white pansies, maybe with some cascading ivy. For a sunny bed, create a “river” of like-hued purple salvias; on a smaller bed try numerous shades of a single color, like green.

2. Buy quality: Deer-resistant plants like boxwoods can be expensive but will live for many years, and natural materials like stone and brick only become lovelier with the passing of time. Instead of cheap plastic, invest in a couple of good terra cotta pots or teak planters to flank your front door or frame a specific landscape feature. These are investments that will pay you dividends for years to come.

3. Be wild: The typical suburban landscape can be a loveless place. We mow our lawns and clip our foundation shrubs, but there is often little relationship to the surrounding landscape. Freer, looser landscapes that embrace a more natural vision of nature should have a place in your home landscape. Loosen up a bit. There is potentially so much beauty and inspiration in our own backyards. Let some wildness happen in your garden. Designate specific areas that will be more natural, wood-like and wild.

4. Go native: Somehow native plants have become unsexy and considered “messy.” That is just wrong. Natives can be not only beautiful but also beneficial to the environment. Bees are a crucial part of that, and by adding Purple Coneflower, Sneezeweed, False Indigo, Bee-Balm or Gayfeather to your garden, you can help these important pollinators thrive. Love butterflies? They’re pollinators, too. Why not add Butterfly Weed to your garden for them to lay their eggs on? Plant a pollinator garden or pollinator containers, and you’ll not only help the environment, you’ll provide a great place for your children to admire nature.

5. Follow your nose: Mix wonderful smelling herbs like rosemary, chocolate mint, pineapple sage and scented geranium or some sweet-smelling jasmine into planted pots that are near where you sit outside. Pot up miniature blueberry and strawberry plants for the middle of your patio table.

6. Get help: Don’t get complaisant. Branch out. (No pun intended!) This year resolve to plant three things in pots that you’ve never tried before. But when you do, don’t forget to combine plants that have similar light and water needs, and make sure to find out how big your new plants will get at maturity. Topiary forms for vines and four-season containers are two particularly hot new trends.

Photo: Christine Darnell: Sneezeweed is a butterfly magnet


tags: gardening, CT gardens, landscapers