Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Busy Person's Guide to Great Gardening

Bougainvillea Spectabilis framing my home's entrance
Despite working 80 hours a week, I manage to have created and personally maintained, without a gardener, quite a garden. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Here are the keys:

1. Of course, there's the obvious: Everything's on an automated watering system and I place nine-month formulation time-release fertilizer under each emitter.
Chrysanthemum Fruticosum in my garden

2. I plant things that require no spraying or pruning and which are long-blooming or fruiting.

Six-packs of annuals are great because they're cheap and you can pop one in the soil in just a minute: Spade one shovelful of dirt out, dig a little compost into the hole, mix some more into the soil you removed and replace it. Then stick the plant in, sprinkle a bit of fertilizer around its perimeter, water, and voila:  Annuals grow quickly so you'll soon get full-sized plants that will bloom for months with no more care.
Bird of Paradise in my garden
My favorite annuals are Impatiens Xtreme Lavender and Accent Lavender for shade, Zinnia Magellan Coral, Zinnia Short Stuff Deep Red, Chrysanthemum Fruticosum, and Chrysanthemum Pink Comet for sun, and Viola Penny Denim (a wonderful miniature pansy) for the winter months. 
  • Orange and lemon trees. I live in almost-no-frost Oakland, CA. Citrus trees are attractive even without fruit or bloom but, in bloom, the fragrance is wonderful, and few plants are as ornamental as an orange tree full of fruit. I don't get enough heat for the oranges to taste great but they deserve prized spots in my garden merely for their ornamental value. I have a Trovita orange and a Meyer Lemon. The former makes a particularly ornamental tree and the latter produces gourmet, less sour lemons in great quantity. 
  • Bougainvillea Spectabilis, Bouganvillea James Walker, Pandorea Rosea, and Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Reginae) are my core shrubs. If I didn't live in a frost-free climate, I'd more liberally use Camellia Buttons and Bows, Camellia Shishi Gashira, and Encore Azalea Autumn Royalty and Encore Azalea Autumn Twist. 
  • Zinnia Short Stuff Deep Red in my garden
I have a red, fine-leafed Japanese red maple tree (Tamukeyama) and a green-leafed Japanese Maple (Sango Kaku). The latter's bark is bright red, providing winter interest at a time where little else (except my Denim violas and Camellias)  provide color.
3. I use general purpose fertilizer for everything--it works well enough, and I save time and money. 

4. I don't have a lawn--that saves lots of time, money, and water.

5. I've paved over my parking strip. Parking-strip plantings take a lot of work but little reward. 

6. Sometimes while on the phone, I get on my cordless or cell and pull weeds, remove spent blooms, or provide supplementary water. 

1 comment:

Johannes said...

Thanks for sharing. I love sitting in a beautiful garden, but haven't freed the time to garden.


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