Taking drives to look at gardens

Make a note and plan to attend the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society Annual Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Show, Wednesday, August 7 from 1:00 till 5:00 p.m. at St. Gerard’s Parish Complex, 125 Third Avenue North, Yorkton. This is a chance to see the best of the gardening season! Your admission includes coffee or tea and dainties, so bring a friend or two and enjoy a most pleasant gardening afternoon! Everyone is welcome!

On these lovely summer days, do you ever take a walk or a drive specifically for looking at yards as you go by? Make it a goal for yourself to drive down a street that you rarely visit, and take the time to notice the interesting flowerbeds or containers that might be along the way. You might see a garden feature you would like to try!

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Speaking of that, make a cup of tea with me and let’s escape to an island! A garden island, that is! I just love the look of garden islands: a “flowerbed” that has gone glamorous! Some are planted with perennials, some with annuals mixed in, some with interesting trees or shrubs. But whatever they contain, they are always interesting.

Garden islands can be any size or shape, but while I was reading about them, an important point to consider right at the beginning is to be sure the island is not too small. The plants that will be included shouldn’t be crowded. Now, about the shape: we might create a shape to accommodate something that is already in our yard, like a tree, making a circle or kidney-shape around this feature. Or perhaps we might like the formal look of square or rectangular islands.

I can picture this looking very modern: a rectangular island with tall grasses and color smaller shrubs, like a barberry or potentilla.

Once we have determined the shape of the island, we need to dig it well, and amend the soil if needed. Then comes the fun part: planning the plants! We must be aware that our island will be viewed from all sides, and this has to be considered when we’re planting. The tallest plants should be in the “centre”, and then we work down from there. For example, if we had a nice kidney-shaped island, we wouldn’t plant Karl Foerster right at the edge, and a mound of creeping jenny in the middle. We must try to “work down” from the tallest to the shortest, drawing our eyes over the entire island.

We can decide whether we want to use mostly perennials, and then add in some annuals for color. Plantings are more effective visually if like plants are planted in drifts or clumps. We shouldn’t plant things in equidistant rows unless we are going for that formal look. Every gardener has different preferences!

We might also want to incorporate a small tree or a variety of shrubs. But a word of caution here: time goes by very quickly, and that fuzzy little spruce that looks so cute now will one day be a mighty tree, dwarfing everything around it. And that small juniper can very quickly become a wave that takes over like a tsunami. I mention this plant specifically because it really takes off, and is extremely difficult to chop out when the time inevitably comes. So choose with care!

Once we’ve planted our island, the finishing touch would be bark mulch for a natural and effective way to retain moisture and control weeds. Add in a birdbath or a dramatic chunk of driftwood or perhaps one or two large rocks, and we’ve got a beautiful garden island!

Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca, and have a great week! Be sure to wear a hat!

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