And since snowdrops are the only flowers blooming right now, the bees are to be found there.
I didn’t know snowdrops were attractive to bees and other pollinators, but there they were!
They will have many more blooms to choose from soon, as milder temperatures have arrived in this part of Ontario.
Mindful of pollinators over-wintering in the leaves and dried stems of last year’s plants, we kept the leaves on the garden beds until this week when my husband got to work with his trusty rake. I helped a little, but he said he enjoyed doing this alone, so I left him to it.
I’m an amateur gardener. Many of you know more about gardening than I do.
But I’ve learned a few things over the years and I shared some in my previous post on affordable gardening.
This post is about creating impact.
The first thing I’ve learned is that you can create impactful garden scenes with a fairly small range of plants – if that’s your preference. At the farmhouse, we had many kinds of plants. At this new garden, we have far fewer. So we use a lot of hosta, hydrangea, ferns, and boxwood throughout our garden.
I’ve learned that structure matters. Plants of the same variety massed together in a circle or semi-circle make a strong structural statement.
When we lived at the farmhouse, a neighbour was throwing out clumps of green-and-white hosta. We gladly took some. We divided and planted them around this tree, below. They formed a lush circle in just two gardening seasons.
My husband created two circles, above – one with hosta and one with boxwood. Look closely and you’ll see a taller boxwood semi-circle too.
Boxwood is perfect for creating structure. We buy them small (aka inexpensive) and let them grow. These ones, curving along our present garden path, are now two years old and will be trimmed and shaped soon.
Contrast is another way of creating impact. The hosta and Japanese forest grasses, below — planted along another curve in the path — make a nice contrast.
Meanwhile, ligularia’s dark leaves, below, contrast well with almost anything.
It’s a backdrop for the light-green hosta. But notice the green-and-white grass, belowleft. Alone, the shape and colour of its blades would contrast nicely with the leaves of that hosta too.
Contrast can also be created using varieties of the same genus of plants. Note the different kinds of hosta used below.
While contrasts are striking, we also like the harmony that comes from repeating a single colour throughout the garden at certain times of the year.
The red blooms of bee balm, below, echo the red of the chairs.
And the white blooms of bridal wreath spirea reinforce the white-stained arbour, below.
Sticking with colour, let’s talk about single-colour gardens and borders.
The white hollyhocks and daisies (above) and Annabelle hydrangea, below, are striking when grown en masse.
Fast-growing and easy to divide, they are popular in all-white gardens. (Vita Sackville-West’s white garden at Sissinghurst in the UK is most famous, but many gardens, both private and public, have these plants in their white borders.)
Of course, we’ve also learned that a single plant can make a magnificent statement, as does this giant Sum and Substance hosta.
And this equally striking goatsbeard.
Size, form, texture, contrast and colour: all can make a strong impact in your garden.
Our gardens are usually lovely because my husband and I take good care of them.
But there’s another reason we’re pleased: nothing we add costs us much. Some gardening tips to share:
Look for end-of-season sales.Many plants in our garden were bought in late June or early July. Remember: water generously that first summer.
Divide mature plants. Hosta, hydrangea, phlox, bee balm — most perennials, in fact — may be divided within 2 to 4 years of planting, instantly creating more mature plants for other spaces in your garden. We got these green-and-white hosta from our neighbours’ garden and have divided them repeatedly in two years.
Consider gift certificates.If you have a big anniversary and friends ask “What would you really like?”, suggest gift certificates from one centrally-located and reputable nursery. I never remember this until it’s too late. But with a few certificates, you could get a shrub, tree, or even garden furniture.
Bargain.We had beautiful clematis plants at the farmhouse garden. Most were straggly-looking at the garden-centre, so we negotiated, got great deals and loved them back to health.
Keep the good stuff.One of our most cherished pieces was a gift from friends: a cedar bench made especially for us. We’ve lived in three homes since then, and it always comes along.
Paint the Old Stuff.Our metal tables were old and rusty. Blue paint brought them back to life.
Work with what you have. We never wanted a pool. But the house-with-the-pool cost much less than the houses-that-had-no-pool. So we bought it. Then a neighbour gave us his old paving stones; my husband created another paved area for seating.
When you can’t afford what you want, consider a substitute. I’d like a certain kind of chaises longues for my garden, but cannot afford them. So every spring in the last three years, I’ve bought one of these zero-gravity loungers. Solid and durable, each costs about one tenth of the chair I’d like and is very comfortable too! Happy saving to you!