February is so mild this year, maybe the garden will be springing back into action sooner than later! Wouldn’t that be great? Early springs are welcomed. Although, there’s always that small voice of experience reminding me, “Not yet, March and April always have a few tricks up their sleeves!” So, I’ll be waiting a few more weeks to rev up my seed starting station.
But no worries, that leaves plenty of time for culling through last season’s notes, reviewing photos, sorting seed packets, and contemplating what I’ll do differently this season. I’ve gardened for many years, but I still think intensively about what I’ll be doing this next season. Years ago a mentor said to me, “Once you have a plan, you can always change the plan. But without a good plan, it’s mayhem.” (Pretty sure someone stole her line and made a whole lot of money on commercials. Lol.)
A good plan, a solid structure, is very freeing for me. Once I know my plan, I can modify it when needed without worry. I know the direction I’m heading. If I don’t accomplish what I’d hoped, then I know where to pick up again next season. BUT, there were those two forlorn, long seasons that I ran willy-nilly into the garden season without a plan. From spring through fall I felt like a silly little jack rabbit out in my garden. There I was hopping from one task to another, tending here, snipping there, and not feeling settled or good about anything. So, cheers to starting the season with a plan.
My best planning tools are my photos. Everything really starts there for me. They capture what I do like and what I’d rather not do again. They also provide inspiration from places I’ve visited. I recently stumbled across some inspiring photos from the Garden Bloggers Fling 2016 Minneapolis Tour. It was four fun days filled with great people and gardens.
Through the tour I discovered, Vera’s Garden, a small urban garden, located in heart of Minneapolis in the MidTown Greenway. It ranks high on my list for innovative thinking, dedication, and beauty. It’s also entirely created on a slope! Who does that? Apparently, a group of gardeners looking for new homes for their own garden thinnings saw this weedy patch of nothingness and decided it would be a great place for a garden. Isn’t that just how gardener’s think? Give us your toughest, roughest spots and we’re all in! Tell us we can’t possibly create something of beauty where there’s ugliness, and we’ll take great pleasure in proving you wrong! Ha! You gotta admire that invincible spirit.
Anyway, this group of gardeners got to work. They contacted the property owners and waited a full year for the garden to be approved. Through a series of donations, partnerships, and lots of volunteer hours they turned that weedy slope into a special small garden located right off a major bike thoroughfare that services thousands of cyclists, runners and walkers every year. Viewers can also enjoy the garden from a nearby overpass. It’s really amazing. The photos at the beginning of this post are all of Vera’s Garden.
Creating Beauty On A Slope
I have a slope in my garden that I do bit of battle with so I contacted the folks at Vera’s Gardens for some insights on how to get the best out of my troublesome space. Their reply came from Donovan Harmel, one of their industrious volunteers. He shared fives great tips to creating beauty on a slope:
- When gardening on a slope, look for the natural contour of the land and follow it. This works especially well for paths, but also when planting a row of similar plants.
- Use rocks to hold the soil in place, especially in steep areas. Then plant cascading varieties above the rocks for a flowing effect.
- If there is an area that looks like a slight depression compared to the land around it, plant blue flowers to imitate water. You’ll create a stream of flowering plants!
- Plant taller plants at the top of the slope to make it look even steeper than what it is.
- If the slope is exceptionally steep and long, put in a path that zig-zags down the slope. This will give you a great opportunity to place showy and textural plants where they will be more intimately admired. Hens & chicks and special petunias are great varieties to try.
Now those are some great tips. My favorite is the stream of blue flowers. I’m going to use that on my slope this year. I wonder if I could make that work with some blue-leaved cabbage or kale? Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that one awhile.
How is your garden planning going? Are you itching for spring? Let me know in the comments below.
Also, if you’re interested in joining the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling, there are still a few (very few) spots left. We’re headed to Washington D.C. There are some fantastic gardens on the itinerary. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you join us!
Happy garden dreaming! We’ll be in the soil soon!
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