Planning A Garden

How to collect and grow the garden of your dreams inexpensively.

Do you have rosebud taste and a daisy budget? An empty yard longing to become a garden? Fear not! You don't need a second mortgage on your house to fulfill your lush dreams. One word to start with: perennials. To set the record straight - annuals must be planted every year; perennials bloom every year. Obviously annuals are more expensive, since you need to buy them year after year, so already, to choose perennials is a money saver.

I happen to like perennials anyway. Most herbs are perennials and besides their beauty, they are useful to grow. Herb gardens are classic additions to your yard. Herbs are easy to start from seed or can be purchased quite inexpensively as a small plant. They grow quickly, making them a very satisfying plant to have in the garden.

Perennial flowers are a joy to observe year after year, from the new green growth of spring to watching the birds enjoy the dried flower heads of seeds in the fall. A fun and less costly way to collect perennials and bulbs is to swap with friends and family. When it comes time to thin a plant grouping (This helps them thrive and be more proficient), ask around to see if anyone would like to have some of your pPeonies. Maybe you'll get some lily of the valley in exchange.

Looking for lilacs? These tend to spread when left unchecked, sending up suckers or saplings that can be cultivated. If you know of someone with a good sized stand of lilacs, chances are that there will be a baby Lilac at it's base. Ask if you can take a look and share in the wealth. Don't be shy. For the most part, people I have met that grow plants are delighted to talk about them, and more often than not, are willing to share a snip or two. This type of transplant will need plenty of care. Extra water is called for during its first six months in its new home.

Trees can be transplanted in this manner, too. The smaller the better, since you won't have an enormous root system to regrow (or dig up!). Another way of growing your own forest of trees while sticking to your budget is to wait for the end of the season sales. Many gardening centers will mark down remaining stock as the seasons change. Again, this requires a lot of watering, even in the winter months, but it is satisfying knowing that you got a bargain and you may have saved a tree from being destroyed because it didn't sell in time.

Christmas trees are a win-win opportunity to expand your forest. Buy a live one rather than a fresh cut version. It will fill your home with its heavenly scent, not be a fire hazard and be cherished for years to come. If you do this, be sure to plan ahead and dig your planting hole early on in the season, before the ground freezes! Then, in January, when the festivities are over, wheelbarrow the beauty out to the yard and plant it. Remember to water it well. After a few years of this, you'll have an instant forest, for not much more than you would have spent on a tree that would have become landfill or wood chips!

Remember those end of season sales? After the holidays, poinsettias are usually drastically marked down. These can become houseplants (watch out if you have kids or kittens, this is a poisonous plant) that will last until the next holiday season if you care for it. After Easter? Watch for hyacinths that have withered in the grocery stores. The bulbs can be planted and enjoyed for year after year.

Still pining away for rRoses? Start a collection with one bush and let the family know you would like to add to it. Look out, on your next birthday, or holiday, you might be inundated with specimens and a need to expand your garden! What a wonderful problem to have. Happy Gardening!

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