Monday, March 31, 2014

NOW THAT SPRING IS HERE, IT’S TIME FOR:


Planting


  • New lawns can be started this month. Sod can be planted at anytime, but wait until soil has warmed up enough to plant Bermuda seed.
  • Warm season vegetables including beans, tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers, melons and peppers 2 weeks after last freeze. Summer vegetables, including okra, eggplant, southern peas 4 weeks after last freeze.
  • Warm season annuals including begonias, impatiens, zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, celosia, 2 weeks after last freeze. Tropical annual color plants, including hibiscus, pentas, fire bush, copper plant, purslane, moss rose, purple fountain grass, caladiums, lantanas, 4 weeks after last freeze.
  • Groundcovers into well prepared soil to take advantage of the burst of new spring growth.
  • Herbs into flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and patio containers. Many herbs are attractive as well as edible.
  • Trees and shrubs are available in profusion this month. Transport them home carefully, protecting them from highway winds, the plant them immediately. Hand water tem regularly during first summer.

Pruning         

           
  • Climbing roses, also antique roses that only bloom in spring, following flowering to remove weak growth and reshape plants.
  • Spring flowering shrubs and vines to reshape immediately after they finish blooming.
  • Low hanging limbs from shade trees to allow sunlight to reach grass beneath canopy.
  • Tropicals, such as hibiscus, that have grown lanky over a winter indoors can be trimmed back now.

Fertilize


  • All lawn grasses should be fed this month. Use high quality nitrogen or all-nitrogen plant food.
  • Container gardens. Use complete-and-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20 with trace elements. Apply diluted solution with each watering.
  • Roses monthly with specialty rose food.
  • Use iron additive with sulfur soil acidifier to correct iron chlorosis (yellow leaves with dark green veins) Keep iron products off masonry, painted surfaces that could be stained.

 

On the Lookout


  • Cankerworms strip new leaves from trees. Larvae will hang by very thin threads from trees. Bacillus thuringiensis biological worm spray is best control.
  • Cabbage loopers with same B. T. spray or dust.
  • Snails, slugs, pill bugs devour tender new stem, leaf growth, apply dust or specialty bait.
  • Leaf rollers tie leaves of cannas, sweetgums, redbuds, pyracanthas, and others together. Apply systemic insecticide for ongoing protection before problems become serious.
  • Thrips cause roses and other double flowers to fail to open, turn brown around petals edges. Systemic insecticide to control.
  • Aphids on brand new growth of daylilies, tomatoes, roses and a host of other plants. General-purpose insecticide will eliminate.
  • Fire ants. Treat with wide area baits and individual mound treatments or hire pest control professional who can apply new yearlong product.
  • Fleas. Treat with broad-spectrum landscape insecticide. Apply preventive from vet to pet’s neck.
  • Roses for black spot and mildew. Use labeled fungicide weekly into the summer.
  • Powdery mildew on new growth of crape myrtles, zinnias, euonymus. Treat with approved fungicide or spray with soapy water.
  • Maroon colored freckles on leaved of red tip photinias, Indian hawthorns suggest fungal leaf spot. Treat with approved fungicide, but be prepared to replace plants. This disease is epidemic.
  • Broadleaf weed killer to eliminate existing clover, dandelions, dichondra, wild violets, and poison ivy.


Color in your landscape tip:

Warm colors (yellow, orange, hot pink, bright red, white) advance visually in the garden, while cool colors (green, blue, purple) recede. Use warm colors where color will be seen from a distance. Use cool colors to make a small landscape appear larger.


Question:
Jimmie, Is it normal for this time of year to have pillbugs around my entry to my house. I am a fairly new homeowner and this is the first time I have seen them?? Thank you for your help. Julie L. in Prosper.

Answer: Hi Julie, Pill bugs can generally show about just about anywhere they feel like it. Really, the only time you should be concerned about them is when they start feeding on your young tender stems and leaves in the area you’re seeing them. Most plants will still outgrow them, but if you have the need to control them, slug and snail baits available at most nursery’s does a good job. Sevin dust works also.
Question: Jimmie, my favorite tree has become the Japanese Maple. While I don't know much about them I just love the texture and color of them, especially the weeping kind. Can this tree be installed anywhere on my property with good soil preparation? I will probably be calling your company to help us! Melissa K. in Prosper

Answer:  Hi Melissa, one of my favorite trees as well. The Japanese Maple is actually native to China but the main growers in the USA are around the Washington, Oregon areas that supply most of the country. They love shade and when designed or installed in the incorrect location in your landscaping can really struggle. A dapple of morning sun and afternoon shade we do the trick. Probably East or North side of your house preferably under the canopy of a large anchor existing tree if you have one would be even better. Be glad to help you out if you need it.



 Until next time, happy gardening………..!!!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Green Mindset can add value, beauty and save you $$$

When thinking of upcoming St. Patrick's Day what color comes to mind? Obviously green right? For most of us that particular date is also when we are beginning to see the early signs that spring has officially arrived! The time of year to reclaim our gardens and landscapes from the winter shades of browns and grays.
St. Patrick's day can be the ideal time for us all to be thinking "Green"! For all those who enjoy being outdoors whether you are a gardener, hiker, biker or pro landscaper my me just the site of that fresh color green can be invigorating to senses and a harbinger of sunnier days ahead!
Plan on investing some time now on "green" improvements to your landscaping and lawn and as a homeowner you will reap a host of benefits both short and long term. There are so many ways that "green" can improve the environment and enhance lives. Here are just a few..
Green can greatly improve allergy reduction, a thick, lush dense turf can crowd out all those weeds therefore reducing pollen in our air. A mighty big relief to allergy sufferers out there.
Green can help create cleaner water, when your turf is thick and healthy it acts like a filter, cleaning water as it absorbed into the soil and plants root zone area reducing the likelihood of groundwater pollution.
Did you know that a healthy patch of lawn as small as just 50 sq. feet can produce enough oxygen for a family of four??
Did you know that "green" can help reduce our energy costs? The proper placement and maintenance for trees for shade and shelter can reduce your attic temperatures up to 40 degrees in the summer and help reduce heat loss in the winter.
Did you "green " is one of the best ways to add to your property value? Studies continually show that investment in landscaping improvements can be more than recovered when a property is sold or even add more profit  when attention is paid to plant size, placement and a well thought out design?
So you may want to raise your glass to the old St. Patrick, it's not just wearing the green it's THINKING AND ACTING on the "green" that can make a real difference for you!
Question: Jimmie, I installed a thick layer of mulch over my perennials late fall to protect the roots from winter. Will they push up through this mulch this spring? Thank you for your time! Vicky K. in Prosper
Answer:  Hi Vicky, While perennials sometimes will successfully break through a thick layer of mulch, other times damage will result. Don't take a chance with the health of your perennial flowers!
In late winter or early spring (depending on the weather) you should begin checking to see whether the ground is thawing or not. If the ground is thawing, leaving landscaping mulch on top of your perennial flowers can smother them -- so it is time to remove the mulch, to let your perennials breathe.
Once the perennial flowers have pushed up (so that you know where they are) and have achieved a bit of height, then you can re-apply mulch around them to suppress weeds.
Question: Jimmie, Is there a general rule of thumb for when to prune flowering shrubs? I know your super busy so I appreciate your time! Susan P. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Susan, To answer the question of when to prune flowering shrubs, we must first determine the reason behind the pruning. Do you wish to rejuvenate overgrown, neglected bushes through pruning? Or is this to be merely a routine pruning to maintain the flowering shrubs within certain dimensions?
We sometimes wish to prune flowering shrubs in order to shape them or keep them within certain bounds. But we worry that we'll miss out on this year's blossoms if we prune at the incorrect time. Here's the general rule of thumb to know when to prune a particular plant.

If you are undertaking a routine pruning, observe the shrubs' blooming habits. For shrubs that bloom in summer or fall on the current year's growth, such as beautyberry , prune in late winter or early spring. For shrubs that bloom in spring on last year's growth like a forsythia, prune after their blooms begin to die.

If you are pruning flowering shrubs to rejuvenate them, the best time to prune is late winter or early spring. True, pruning early-flowering shrubs at this time will reduce or eliminate blossoming in spring that year, but the trade-off is in gaining healthier, more vigorous flowering shrubs for the long run. Until next time ...Happy Gardening!!

Jimmie

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Prepare now for a lush, green, and fragrant spring

If you were ever in the Boy Scouts, or you have a son who is, then you’ll know the famous motto of that organization: “Be prepared.”
It’s a lesson I’ve sometimes had to learn the hard way. Perhaps, like me, you’ve waited until the last minute to make reservations at a restaurant or a hotel, only to find you’ve left it too late and you’re disappointed.
So today I am going to encourage you to take a leaf out of the Scouting Manual and... Be prepared!
With the Holidays behind us and spring still a few weeks away, this is the perfect time to prepare for the planting season ahead. Yes, it is tempting to wait until spring is almost upon us. But take some time now to prepare and you won’t be disappointed later. The good news is that much of this preparation can be done while you relax in your favorite armchair with a cup of cocoa (or something stronger, insert your favorite beverage here) close at hand!
Plan your garden
1Ready for a new look? Get a few sheets of 1/4 inch grid paper and roughly draw the shape of your
landscape. Start by sketching in items that can’t be moved, such as large trees, walls, and your garage and so on. Now sketch in areas where you might add new beds or change the shape or location of existing beds. Some new specimen trees? An evergreen privacy hedge? A water feature? That shade arbor or outdoor kitchen you have been dreaming of?  Add them in. Use a pencil, so you can erase and start over where necessary. Ok maybe even an extra large eraser!
And remember: there’s no rule that says everything has to be planted in straight lines. An area of lawn curving between perennial beds and flowering trees can be a delightful change from a solid slab of grass. There are some helpful tips on landscape layout and planning on my company website at www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com
Mouse through the Web
Get some inspiration online. Use Yahoo or Google to find information and pictures of plants you’ve heard about and find out if they’d fit in with your new plans. You can find enormous amounts of planting tips and independent advice, and you can check to see if a particular plant will thrive in your hardiness zone. And then you can place plant orders via the Internet without ever leaving home. Sometimes however, it can risky to order online verses a local nursery or grower. Your landscape professional can also help you locate unusual but hearty plants. Remember our planting zone here is 7 and 8 so anything rated outside of those zones is generally considered high risk of not surviving here.
Keep a record

If you get those free calendars in the mail, take one of them and start writing down information that you’ll need every year, to save having to figure it out year after year. For example, it would be a good idea to note the projected dates for the first and last frosts, how much fertilizer you need each year for your lawn, and the date you spread it, and so on. You can also note the number of plants you buy for your container gardens, to avoid over- or under-buying next year. Don't try to over think it, lots to be said for simple sometimes!
Try something new

Tired of the same old, same old? Prepare now for something new and different. Because the unusual plants are often in short supply, you definitely want to prepare now by researching and ordering your “out of the ordinary” plants.

Find fallen branches

At this time of year, the weather can often bring down anything from small twigs to large branches. When they’re left there all winter, they can traumatize your lawn, and may cause a tripping hazard to children or pets playing in the yard, particularly if hidden by snow or frost. Your lawn will benefit in the spring from your preparedness now, and you might end up with some kindling for your fireplace, too.

2
Think green!

Best of all, prepare mentally by imagining how lush, fragrant and beautiful your landscape will be, mere weeks from today! Good luck to you!!

Question: Jimmie, I recently bought a “Bloodgood” Japanese Maple tree. I purchased the tree early last spring and it seemed to be doing fine until the heat of the summer hit. It then spent all summer basically burning up and all the leaves being scorched? What did I do wrong?  Janet P. in Prosper.

Answer:  Hi Janet, Sounds to me like you have the installed your new tree in the wrong location. Typically, all Japanese Maples are considered to be strictly shade ornamental trees under the canopy of an older established tree. The exception would be on the east side of your house where you’re getting morning sunlight exposure only. Any location on your property where it’s getting full sun and you’re setting yourself up for some much burnt foliage!

Until next time…Happy Gardening!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Houseplants not even YOU can KILL...!!!

Houseplants not even YOU can KILL...!!!
      Okay, so I already know what you're thinking. Yea right Jimmie you don't know me, I can kill anything!! Believe me, being in my business I have heard it all from clients! However I have a list of six or seven really hearty houseplants that you would have to try really hard to kill. Not that you wouldn't be successful with enough dedicated neglect but I have seen people leave for the summer and come back to these plants basically saying " Is that all you got?" Let's take a look at some of these tougher than nails houseplants that will keep your green thumb confident!

Golden pothos vine (Epipremnum pinnatum 'aureum')
There's a reason this vine is one of the most popular hanging plants around. In its native habitat, golden pothos grows into a tree-swallowing monster with huge yellow and green leaves. As a houseplant, the plant will grow aggressively from pots or trailing baskets with minimal care. They will easily root in a simple glass of water. With better care, large, mottled, mature leaves may actually develop for you.

Spider plant (Chlorophytum)
A well-grown spider plant is a magnificent thing. The plant grows easily in baskets or atop columns, with arching leaves. The variegated variety is by far the most common. Over time, a mature plant will send out plantlets or offsets on long stems that form an impressive hanging display. These plantlets can be easily potted up to create new specimens. Spider plants are not picky about water, light, temperature or that huge spider web that's been growing near it for the last three months you just haven't got around to yet..

Snake plant and mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata and S. trifasciata laurentii)
Actually in the same family that includes dracaena and liriope, there are many varieties of sansevieria that are exceptionally tough. They like plenty of light, but they can handle less if necessary and they aren't too particular about watering—providing there isn't too much. When repotting is necessary, the main clump can be easily divided. These plants are striking additions to a collection. The snake plant features green on green bands on sword-like leaves, while the mother-in-law's tongue has yellow variegated type leaves. And I mean come on, with a name like "Mother-In-Laws Tongue"? What did you really expect?

Dracaena species
There are many varieties of dracaena suitable for home growth. The D. Draco and D. Marginata are wonderfully easy plants that tolerate a wide variety of conditions. These plants feature arching leaves from a woody stem. Dracaena leaves are usually green, yellow and green, or even tri-colored. Also a member of the agave family, they like to be regularly watered in the summer and almost left dry throughout the winter. D. Fragrans is often used to make the popular Ti plants, or false palms as well.


Succulents and Cacti
There are dozens of varieties of succulents and desert cacti flooding into garden centers and grocery stores. In general, succulents are desert plants with thick, fleshy leaves. Some of them have spines, and some none. Agave is an example of a popular succulent, along with aloe and popular echeveria rosettes. Cacti generally have spines and interesting leaf structures, including barrels, paddles and columns. As a class, succulents and cacti are slow growing and will withstand tremendous abuse. They do best with bright light, well-drained pots and little water. In the right placement, these are plants that truly thrive on neglect!

Bromeliads
These plants have basically gained an unfair reputation, probably because of the difficulty required to coax a bloom from a bromeliad. It's true that making these jungle plants bloom in the house can be tricky task. They require copious warmth and water, along with high humidity and filtered light, to produce their showy flower spikes. However, many species of bromeliads have beautiful leaves that are attractive by themselves. Bromeliads plants are usually watered by filling the central cup. They require little fertilizer, and when pups appear around the base of the plant, these can be separated and potted up to grow your collection.



Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Technically a dracaena species, lucky bamboo is the perennial office plant. Untold pots of these thrive in awful conditions, sporadically watered with bad lighting and poor air quality. Nevertheless, lucky bamboo lives on. These make wonderful gift plants, and many people believe they bring good luck and enhance the chi, or energy, of their surroundings.


These houseplants are some of the best to start your collection. They are all easy to grow and can generally withstand erratic watering, uneven or bad light, and fluctuating temperatures. They'll thrive in dorm rooms, offices and sometimes over in that dismal corner you have where nothing else seems to grow. Until next time...Happy Gardening Visit our new website

Friday, February 7, 2014

Valentine's Day? Let's Talk Roses!!


With Valentine's Day around the corner it seems like this time of year we always get allot of interest from clients about Roses. Questions like, "I have always loved Roses, how hard are they to grow?" or "Do I have to do any special to have nice Roses" and "Will Roses grow on my patio?". With those types of calls and e-mails already starting to come in this year I decided to go ahead provide you some information to address Planting Roses!

 
When you buy a rose plant it very possibly can have short, leafless canes and, sometimes even, bare roots. Seeing a plant like this can leave you wondering how do you plant roses. Roses are not nearly a
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s fragile as you might think and you could probably just plant it in a hole and have some success. But some extra effort when planting roses will pay off with healthier plants and more blooms. Here are a few tips for how to plant roses.
Where to Plant Roses
Choose a site with full sun to partial shade. Six hours or more of sun is preferred. There are some roses that will be perfectly happy in partial shade, but most roses bloom their best if they are in a spot that gets sun all day. The exception to this rule of thumb would be when roses are grown in areas with extremely hot growing seasons and limited water. In that case, you roses will appreciate the relief offered by some afternoon shade.
Roses are not terribly sensitive regarding soil, but since they are heavy feeders, a rich loam or soil mix would be ideal. The soil pH can be slightly acidic to neutral (5.5 to 7.0). It is usually advisable to work in several inches of organic matter, especially if you have poor soil or heavy clay, which chances are you do!
Make sure the soil has good drainage. Roses need regular deep watering, but their roots will rot if left to sit for days in wet soil. As will most plants.
And finally, do not crowd your rose bushes. The more air flow around the plants, the less likely they will be to get fungal diseases, like black spot and powdery mildew, on their leaves.

How to Plant Roses
Dig out a hole that is slightly wider, but about as deep as the roses root ball. This will generally be about 15–18 inches deep x 18–24 inches wide or so.
Mix a handful of bone meal or superphosphate into the soil you removed from the hole and save it for refilling the hole, once the rose is planted.. This will help the rose bush acclimate to its new soil. Don’t feed with anything else at planting time. You want the roots to take hold, before the top starts sending out a lot of new growth.
If your rose came in a container, gently remove it from the pot and loosen the roots a bit.
If your rose is bare root, soak the roots for a few hours, before planting.
Make a mound in the center of the hole, with the soil and superphosphate mix. Make the mound high enough so that when you place the rose bush on top of it, the knobby graft union is barely below soil level. When the plant settles, the graft union should be fully buried, about 1-2 inches underground.
Gardeners in warm climates may prefer to leave the bud union above ground, since there is little chance of frost damage. You can bury the graft no matter where you are gardening, but there is a chance that sprouts will from the root stock, resulting in a plant different from the one grafted on top.
Spread the roots down the sides of the mound. Begin filling in with the soil and superphosphate, keeping the roots as spread as possible. Water the soil when the hole is just about filled, to help settle it in. Continue filling the hole and gently pat down.
Water deeply and apply 1–2 inches of mulch. Water at least once per week.
More Tips:
If there is still a chance of freezing temps, you can loosely pile soil or mulch around the base of the rose canes, to keep them from drying out. Remove this soil when the temperatures warm.
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Prune back the canes of larger rose bushes that are being transplanted to about 6–8 inches long

Caring for Roses after Installing
Continue to water every week, so that the plants develop a deep roots system.
Feed roses when they start to leaf out in spring and after each flush of bloom or about every six weeks throughout the growing season.
Stop feeding about 6 weeks before your first frost date, but continue watering.
 Until next time Happy Gardening!!

Jimmie

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Advises to Prepare For Spring

Plan now for Spring 

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting chillier, and the outdoors is looking a little less inviting than it did just a few short weeks ago. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much of an incentive to be out there surveying your landscape right about now.
There might be a temptation to just forget about your piece of planet Earth and all the trees and shrubs that are living on it. But this can be a very satisfying time to enjoy your yard and garden from the comfort of your armchair in front of your crackling log fire, or sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of something warm!
As winter sets in, this is the perfect time to be planning for the spring. Sit back and let your imagination have free rein. Think of everything you'd like to see flourishing out there in a few months time... The sprightly young tree saplings, the bright green leaves on your new shrubs, the bees humming around the latest additions to your landscape.

But at this stage it's no more than a pleasant dream. It becomes a "plan" when you write it down and begin to take action on those thoughts.

Find a pencil and some paper... preferably grid paper... and roughly sketch out the shape of your land, or at least the part you're thinking of working on. Add in the shape of any structures (your house, a barn, a shed) that are part of the landscape. Are there any large trees out there? Sketch a circle to approximate each tree's canopy and its location. At this stage, your layout doesn't have to be strictly accurate; you can refine it later. Then draw a little arrow pointing to the north.

One important issue is to determine those areas of your land that are exposed to long periods of sunlight and those that are likely to be in shade for large parts of the day. Of course, the amount of sun and shade will vary with the seasons, but this moment of forethought will pay off when you get to planting later! You might want to use your pencil to (literally) shade in areas on your plan that will be largely shaded from sunlight, either by buildings or by large trees.

Now comes the part that's really fun!
If you're like me and like most enthusiasts of landscaping and garden design, you probably receive dozens of mail order catalogs and you have numerous online nurseries "bookmarked" or in your "favorites" on your computer. Sit back with your catalogs and start circling everything you think you might like to see out there next year. Go wild! Dog-ear the catalog pages. Mark pages with little sticky notes. Don't try to be cautious at this stage.

The same is true when you browse the offerings of online nurseries. In fact it's even easier online. Just click "Add to Cart" whenever you see something that appeals to you. Remember that you haven't actually committed yourself to buying anything when you add an item to your cart; as in the supermarket you can simply put it back on the shelf (by clicking remove) when you finally get around to reviewing all the goodies you've selected.


Now it's time to "weed out" your selections. One logical way to do this is to say to yourself, "If I could only have ONE, it would be....." So that one is a keeper. Then do the same thing again, picking out the next must-have. You can work in reverse, too, eliminating the one item you could most easily live without. Before long, you'll have a shorter, more manageable list to work with.

A word of advice: Except for a "special" purchase, such as a particular ornamental tree, it is not a good idea to purchase a large number of varieties with a small number of actual plants within each variety. Rather, I suggest you pick a smaller number of varieties, say five to seven, and increase the actual number of plants in each variety. This gives a more cohesive and satisfying appearance to your plantings. You might select ten
to twenty plants in each variety; or perhaps a hundred or more if your landscape is more generously sized.

Plan, too, for the different seasons. Select some plants that will be at their best early in the year and others that will be in full bloom later on.
Dreaming, and turning dreams into plans, and then plans into reality can be a thoroughly satisfying endeavor for anyone who loves to Garden!

Question: Jimmie, Do you have any advice for growing the Oregon grape or Leatherleaf Mahonia? Our garden guide says that it is a great plant and easy to grow, but the ones we have just seem to shrink, and the leaves get all discolored. Our creeping Mahonia does somewhat better, but it still gets the muddy-looking leaves. This year it is finally getting flowers, so maybe we have a breakthrough. It will be great if it ever gets those purple berries. Thank you for your assistance, and I enjoy your articles.
Brenda P. in Prosper

Answer: Hi Brenda, Yes I am familiar with both varieties. The Oregon Grape one is a dwarf variety used as a second-tier type planting while the Leatherleaf one is much taller and generally used as a backdrop to something smaller in height. Both are aesthetically pleasing, low-maintenance, and pretty hearty. They like shade to partial shade light conditions. They are usually easy to grow. However they do need some sun and should get good supplemental water. Aside from that you may want to fertilize with a 6-12-12 fertilize. High nitrogen content but will help build the root system.

Until next time…Happy Gardening!!
Jimmie

Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at jimmie@absolutelybushed.com or in care of the Prosper Press at rhays@prosperpressnews.com Jimmie is the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company. He is a resident in Prosper. His landscaping and gardening column runs every other week in the Prosper Press.





Saturday, January 4, 2014

Have any Garden Resolutions?
Here are a few to consider

Garden Resolution #1: Experiment With Form and Texture
Flowers can spruce up a landscape, but sometimes we become way too dependent on annual color, ignoring the value that other plant features can bring to a yard, especially when it's "off season" for flowers. Nor does the answer lie solely in the use of fall foliage trees or smaller foliage shrubs. A large clump of ornamental grass can add great interest to a winter landscape, as can trees and shrubs with interesting branching patterns, such as Coral Bark Japanese Maple tree. That bright red bark is quite eye catching! With this observation, we enter the world of plant form and texture.
Garden Resolution #2: Appreciate Your Plants
After going through a long winter, plant lovers are often guilty of going crazy at the nursery in the spring. We buy too many different kinds of trees, shrubs and perennials all at once — one of this, one of that…. This, despite the fact that one of the most important principles to remember when designing your own landscape is that masses of the same plant can have a much bigger visual impact in planting beds.
Admittedly, sometimes it’s more satisfying to walk into the nursery and buy a smorgasbord of individual plants. But that’s just for one day. How to derive the most satisfaction from your plants over the long term is an issue of much greater importance, don’t you think? There’s something to be said for turning our attention to more fully appreciating each and every plant we end up growing in our gardens each season.
Garden Resolution #3: Look for the Details
There are so many small details worth admiring! I find I derive maximum satisfaction from my garden when I slow down long enough to admire what’s already there, properly, before adding too much more before some good thought. To that end, I recommend carrying around a magnifying glass when in the garden, just kidding! But do pay attention to smaller plants that may have a bigger impact than you give them credit for. Or perhaps your pretty satisfied and just want to add a few small things? Those small changes can make a world of difference!
Garden Resolution #4: Raise Your Gardening to a New Level
Perhaps a bad back precludes your stooping over with a magnifying glass to appreciate the details of plants on the ground, consider growing your plants in raised beds, which effectively bring the plants up to your level. Of course, it's also easier to maintain plants in raised beds. Raised beds also tend to have much better drainage for your plants as well.
Garden Resolution #5: Keep a Garden Journal
But don’t stop there! At the next level of commitment, the plant appreciator keeps a garden journal. Keeping a garden journal will allow you to record the changes in your plants, as they progress through the seasons — and from year to year, if you have the discipline to stick with it that long!
And if you’re even a bit more committed to "making a connection" with your plants and thereby appreciating them to the fullest, snap photos of them at different junctures along the way. A close-up lens comes in handy for this but isn’t absolutely necessary. The photos can be incorporated in your garden journal. I find the easiest way to keep such a journal can be on your computer. For instance, to chart the progress of Magnolia tree, create a “Magnolia Tree” folder.
Garden Resolution #6 -- Turn Plants Into Vacation Memories
Here's another great way to make a connection with a particular plant:
Going on vacation? When making a trip by car, take note (pictures can be even better if possible) of any plant that really catches your eye, as you observe what the locals are growing in their landscapes. Then try to find a nursery in that same area, where you can make inquiries concerning the availability and growing requirements of that plant. Of course (depending on where you're vacationing), you may quickly find out that it won't grow in your own planting zone. But assuming the plant in question is growable back home, consider buying it, as a souvenir  of your trip.
There are, to be sure, drawbacks in buying plants on vacation. For example:
  1. You have to care for them (get them out of a hot car and into your hotel room as quickly as possible, and water them)
  2. They take up room in a car that is probably already crammed full with luggage and impatient children!
But on the plus side, thereafter you'll always associate the plant with the vacation.
Garden  Resolution #7 -- Don't Be a Garden Snob

Many of us "serious" gardeners could profit from lightening up considerably in our approach to landscaping. Just because plant are "dirt common," such as the popular annual flowers, that doesn't necessarily mean o
ur high and mighty gardens are too good to be "soiled" by such riffraff. Looked at objectively, annuals can be viewed as a reservoir of color that you can "dip into" as filler during periods when your perennials have run into a "blooming drought." And always remember what one person doesn't really care for the next person would drive across the country to get one! Until next time... Happy Gardening!!