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A mangeable garden that fits into a container

Photo credit: Herald Review

Dr. Robert Nyvall

Garden Olio

“The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.” – Sir Thomas More.

Olio means mixture. A garden and a library are everything you you might need. But within any library the subjects are a mix of art, science, and human experience. Attractive gardens are a mix of different colors and textures. Therefore, this last column of 2015 is an olio, a mix of garden thoughts.

Gardening at this time of the year evokes dual feelings. Spring anticipation has changed to autumn ennui. Perennials are dying back and vines and leaves are turning brown or white with powdery mildew. It’s a time to gather the rewards after a summer of planting, hoeing, and watering. It’s also time to think about next year.

Too much garden? Down size the unmangeable to a mangeable garden that fits into a container. Many colorful or delicious plants can be grown in the same container. A piece of “junk”? Gardeners in the country may have an unused stock tank or old buckets with holes in the bottom; as utilitarian as expensive pots. A broken down wheel barrow is perfect for many shallow rooted annuals, and a spent child’s wagon or charcoal grill serves the same purpose. Old toilets and bath tubs destined for the land fill become unusual but usuable gardens. Rusted out pickup in a wood lot? Fill up the back end with soil and plant away. Your gardening friends will think you’re very creative.

Now is the time of the year to deal with a dual conundrum. Too many plants in one area, too few in another. Dig up the crowded plants and plant them in the bare spots or compost them. Many perennials can still be planted at this late date. Dig up a large block of soil containing the roots, cut back the plant tops and water frequently. Plants may appear dead but they usually green up next spring.

Read the full story: Herald Review

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.