Thursday, March 3, 2011

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

It's hard to imagine just by looking at the picture
 that this garden area in winter 
is a beautiful place in the summer and fall.

In mid-summer, this same area is filled with flowers,
insects, birds, and other wildlife.

In the fall, the garden is filled with beautiful shades 
of golds, oranges, yellows and greens

Early March is hard on a mountain gardener like myself. The weather is usually teasing me with its 50 to 60 degree days, lots of clear blue skies and warming sunshine. The snow melts, the ground looks nice and moist, and sometimes even a few plants show some new signs of life. March is that time of year when I look at the gardens and think about how to make them better. Not only from a design standpoint, but from a wildlife, ecological and sustainable standpoint as well. As I look at the various areas and plants in the gardens, I ask myself the question "Should it stay or should it go?"

All of the Vinca in this area under the deck will be removed 
this spring. The soil will be enriched with compost and manure, 
and the area replanted with a few herbs for my 
Dragonfly Dew botanicals and blends.

I have a hard time getting rid of plants, even those that might not be doing all that well in their current locations. Unless it's dead, a plant living in my gardens usually gets a year or two to try and improve its performance before it's given a one-way ticket to the compost heap.  Sometimes I try a new location in the yard or occasionally I'll divide the plant to see if the poor thing needs rejuvenating.  I know that to most people they're "just plants", but I feel a sense of guilt if I don't at least try a few things first before uprooting them from their home.

This is another area that will get re-worked in the spring.
It's filled with Lavender, Agastaches, Lilies, Russian Sage,
Ribbon Grass and a few other things.  Most of it will stay,  
but the "Wine & Roses"Weigela is definitely out of here 
as well as the Ribbon Grass.

In the summer this same garden is filled with color 
and hummingbirds and requires almost no supplemental watering.

So how can you make it easier on yourself when deciding what to ditch and what to keep?  Some of the things to think about include:

  • Does the plant still do what you want it to do in terms of color, form and texture, growing requirements and ecosystem benefits?
  • Does the plant require too much upkeep in exchange for looking pretty?
  • Could you replace the plant with a native that has the same form, color or texture?
  • If you redo an area, what will you do with the plants that you remove?  Can they be used somewhere else in your yard, or given away to another gardener?  If they're invasive just get rid of them!
  • What types of wildlife do you want to attract to your yard?  Considering this before buying new plants will help you attract what you want. Visit us at Wildlife Garden where we have hundreds of posts with information to help you make informed choices.
Now that I've shown you some examples and given you some ideas, start thinking about what should stay and what should go in your nature loving gardens!
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