Spring Story Starters

April 8, 2015

Surely no one needs inspiration to focus on spring in the garden, but in case you do, here are three thoughts: 1) Playing with color; 2) Make room for some fragrance and 3) Getting practical with plants.

1. Playing with color

decorator rose

Take your decorating cues from plants like Sweet Spot rose.

Even when fashion dictates we tone down the color palette – sometimes as far as white, beige, grey, and black – we still give Mother Nature greater freedom. Perhaps it’s our primal response to vivid color that keeps us keen to find the garden filled with flowers in riotous color. If your garden isn’t giving you the color rush you’d like, here are two ways to make it happen.


Tip one: Pick a color and add it in. This is a great way to take an established evergreen garden and work color into it without losing its integrity of style. For example, picture a classic front door setting, complete with box hedging and pencil pines flanking the front door. The house itself is probably white with a black railing up the steps, and together with all that deep green, it presents a handsome, low-key picture to passers-by. Now imagine you live in that house and you love red. All you need to do now is paint the front door red and arrange a matched set of potted red geraniums on each step.


Tip two: So you’ve dusted off the outdoor furniture for the coming season and it all looks a little ho-hum, not surprising really as most furniture available is pretty color-neutral. Here’s an opportunity to decorate your outdoor space, much like you would a room in your house. Head straight to your nearest garden center and look around for something that makes you happy just looking at it, like the Sweetspot Decorator rose. Whatever you spot, grab a few of them to plant out a large pot, which you can set up on the patio amongst the furniture. Then take your cue from the colors in the flowers to grab a few throw cushions to scatter about to tie it all together.


Easy care roses

Don’t be shy about bringing plants into the décor, even onto the table like this Flower Carpet Yellow rose.


2. Make room for some fragrance

Volcano phlox

Phlox is a scented Summer memory, in more colors and much easier to grow than in our parents’ day.

A garden’s appeal is spread across our senses – or that’s the way it should be. We’ll be drawn in by the deep red of a rose; we’ll reach out to touch its velvety petals, and we’ll definitely lean in to smell its fragrance. These three senses are the key, and of these, scent is king. Here’s how to add some to your garden . . .


Tip one: Spring bulbs pack a punch and are like little seasonal time bombs. They lurk unseen in the soil, poking green leafy tips of promise through at the end of winter. They’re exciting to watch simply because they grow so quickly – in no time at all they’re in flower, filling the air with the scent of childhood memories. Jonquils are fabulous, as are Freesias, Sweet Peas and many annuals as well. You can get away with a clustered handful close to the steps, or if time and money allows, scattered drifts through a woodland or across the lawn. And don’t forget to cut some to bring their fragrance indoors.


Tip two: Summer is also a season filled with scented plants.  If you were fortunate enough to grow up with the perfume of peonies or phlox filling the warmer months, you know what I mean. Happily, the newer varieties like Volcano Phlox are just as special as those of our childhoods but with much higher levels of disease tolerance. Then there’s the gorgeous gardenia, delicious heliotrope Cherry Pie and for filling vertical spaces, jasmine.


Tip three:  There is a simple trick to making a garden feel like it’s full of fragrance, sometimes using only a few plants. Pick the spot to plant your scented additions carefully – beside the front gate, near the back door, behind the garden seat. These are places where we all pause, and with a few new additions, they’ll become places where are stop to draw in a few good deep breaths of perfume.


3. Getting practical with plants

easy care landscape roses

Gorgeous garden plantings in the public domain are a good example of professionally-designed low-maintenance gardens. Who wouldn’t want to copy this combination of peppercorn trees underplanted with day lilies and a sea of Flower Carpet roses.

How often have you been out and about and some public garden moment – a park or roadside landscape – has you thinking “how do they get it to look so good?”  And if you stop and think a little longer, you might wonder how they manage to get it to look so good when there’s clearly not a team of horticulturalists tending it to it several times a week. Clearly they know something we don’t, or maybe there’s a trick. As it turns out, it’s a bit of both. So if you want that much garden gorgeousness with minimal maintenance, here’s how in three tips.


Tip one: beating the weeds is the key and to do that you need to put in an effort at the beginning. Pick the area you’re going to convert to low maintenance loveliness and render it weed-free. Use whatever method, but be thorough and then mulch it thickly to keep it that way.


Tip two: if you pick your plants thoughtfully, you’ll save yourself a lot of work. Make room only for plants that don’t need fussy care or too much water. Do your research by asking at your local garden center or nursery for their recommendations.  Keep your eyes open for things you like the look of which seem to be looking after themselves. Sometimes something you expect will be difficult to grow – like a rose – turns out to come in a form that is completely easy to care for like the Flower Carpet rose.


Tip three: you don’t need lots of different plants to fill a garden but you do need lots of just a few. In other words, your garden will look much better (and be easier to look after) if you plant 15 roses, 30 clumping grasses and 5 lavenders close together to form same-plant blocks of color and texture, rather than 50 different plants, all with different cultivation and watering needs.


To download hi-res versions of the photos included in this Story Starter release, simply click on them to get to their Flickr link. For further assistance with photos, please contact Judie Brower at JBrower@TesselaarUSA.com.

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