Friday, September 15, 2006

Beautifying Your Domain With A Simple Garden

I never saw myself as a gardener. The idea of getting down in the dirt with a trowel and a bunch of tiny wrinkled seeds was not the highlight of my day. It was autumn, for goodness sakes - didn't people do things like this in the spring? And then I really got into it. I imagined all these huge flowers that spouted all the colors of the rainbow, peeking through the earth in the springtime. The image was interesting and something to look forward to, so I put on my old workclothes and trudged outside, wondering what I'd gotten myself into.

There were so many seeds and bulbs, all different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some looked more like tennis balls, and some were so small they were almost invisible. I was amazed. I had envisioned a lot of hard work, cultivating and planting, but it soon paid off. There doesn't need to be a huge themed garden for your house to have a touch of beauty. I was fooled into thinking that a "fancy" garden was a big production with bonsai trees and ponds, until I saw the beauty of the simple flowerbed.

There are many different ways to garden, but if all you want is a small patch of dirt and a variety of flowers (without getting technical) it is a lot simpler to plant a garden than you would think. First check out your soil count and research what types of plants will grow best in this type of soil. Try not to get too excited about a particular kind of flower before you discover if it will grow in your zone or not. Once you've cased out the place for your flowerbed, take a tally of any gardening tools you have or may need to buy. If you don't have one, see if someone you know owns a cultivator or some other kind of equipment that would do the trick.

Also, if you don't already have these items, buy some cheap trowels, watering cans, and garden gloves. Find some old clothes that you plan on throwing out after they become torn and mud-hardened from your venture. Then, it's time to cultivate. If you have kids or friends who would be willing to give you a hand, it takes a lot less time with more people helping. Children might enjoy digging with a trowel or dropping in seeds one by one. It's important to know how far apart to place the seeds, and how deep. If all your bulbs need to be planting four inches deep except one that needs to be three inches, you'll want to decide how you're going to do it.
Planting should be done in the coolest part of the day when you won't mind spending hours outside. See if the place you've chosen has enough shade, will be too exposed to sunlight, etc., before beginning.

Some people will choose to have a theme; all the purple flowers in one row, all the blue flowers in another. As for me when I was helping with gardening, I decided to suggest a mixed theme. I put all the bulbs and seeds in a mixing bowl, shook it up, and just grabbed different seeds from the bowl while I was planting. This way you don't know what will be coming up where. However, after this point it becomes difficult to remember how deep each seed gets planted. Make sure that your seeds are thoroughly covered; you might want to invest in some sort of fence to keep curious critters at bay. Don't over-water, but make sure plants get plenty of liquid especially in the summertime.

The worst part about having a simple garden is that there's usually nothing simple about pulling weeds. Weeds *will* grow and there is little you can do to discourage them. If you can't do all the pulling yourself, children might enjoy helping with the task (especially in they're on the lookout for the little bugs that sometimes appear on leaves and petals). If you have an agent that kills weeds you will want to see if it also harms flowers. After all this work, you will be rewarded with a beautiful garden full of a variety of flowers that will brighten your home and your neighborhood. The work is hard but well worth it, and it's a very simple scene that doesn't have to look like something out of a gardener's magazine.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer