The glory of GARDENING
April 01, 2019
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. —Alfred Austin
April is National Garden Month, and it's a great time to get your hands dirty. "Every April, communities, organizations, and individuals nationwide celebrate gardening during National Garden Month. Gardeners know, and research confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us: attitudes toward health and nutrition improve, kids perform better at school, and community spirit grows. Join the celebration and help to make America a greener, healthier, more livable place!" -National Garden Month
Each week this month, the National Gardening Association shares favorite articles about growing different kinds of plants. And they open up the month with a week all about FLOWERS. —National Garden Month
Flowers are the earth’s extravagance.
They are a lagniappe, a little something extra, like a 13th doughnut when you have bought a dozen. We don’t NEED flowers, but maybe that makes them an even more glorious gift. Vibrant blooms of spring can transform the drab and dreary into the grand and gorgeous. Edwin Curran said that “flowers are the music of the ground,” and they are. The earth is singing for joy, and we can see its melodies. Some flowers are a powerful symphony, and others are a gentle lullaby, but every song is lovely and every blossom is a note to be savored.
Flowers come in all shapes and sizes, and in every color of the rainbow. Flowers grow on different types of plants, which require different care. To better take care of your flowers, it is helpful to know some flower basics:
What kind of flowers?
Annuals: Some flowers are annuals, which means their life cycle only lasts one year. They grow, bloom, produce seeds and die in a single growing season, and must be replanted each spring. Annuals require more effort, but bloom for a long time.
Perennials: Perennials return every year, so they do not need to replanted each season. They keep growing until they reach full maturity, usually in 3-5 years. Perennials require less work, but bloom for a short time, just a few weeks a season.
Biennials: Biennials have a two-year life cycle. They grow leaves their first year, and then bloom and produce seeds the second year, after which they die.
It is helpful to plan your flower garden so that something is always blooming. Organize your plantings so that flowers blossom at different times, and you’ll have color all season.
Where to plant flowers?
It is smart to think about which flowers to plant, but it is even more crucial to think about where to plant your flowers.
Obviously, access to sunlight is key for flowers. Most flowers require 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. Study your yard before you plan your garden, walking around outside at intervals during the day to see how many hours of sunlight each spot is getting. If your yard doesn’t receive 6-8 hours of sunlight, there are still many flowers you can choose that tolerate shade. Read those flower labels, and plant wisely.
If possible, plant flowers where they will have the most visual impact. Use flowers to highlight the areas of your house and yard that people are more likely to see, and areas that you want to draw attention to (such as around your front door).
What do flowers need?
Basically, flowers need sun, water, and soil. We’ve talked about planting so that flowers can reach up to the sun. Now think about water.
Water: Most flowers need ½” to 1” of water each week, although this varies depending on the types of flowers, your soil, and how much rain you receive. It is always preferable to water in the early morning when the ground is cool and the water is less likely to evaporate.
Soil: Soil is more important than you may realize. Good soil produces good fruit. Different yards have different soils and have different needs. The soils in most yards need to have amendments added to provide proper nutrients, and to ensure proper drainage and root development. For more information on amending your soil, here is a helpful article.
In addition to water, sun, and soil, flowers love mulch. Mulch helps keep the water in and the weeds out, and, when natural mulches decompose, they provide more nutrients to your flowers. Plus, mulch just makes everything look better. Seriously. In the same way that a new coat of paint freshens up a room inside your home, a nice bed of mulch freshens up the spaces outside your home.
Now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to go plant some flowers!
And go outside and enjoy the lush bounty that is Spring!