Get out & grow!A special gardening section

Published on Thu, Apr 24, 2003
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Get out & grow!
A special gardening section

Personalize your garden, with a theme

Gardeners and non-gardeners alike, have an idea, a vision, of what a perfect garden might be like.

There can be few of us who do not respond positively to a naturally lovely view. Beautiful gardens stir something in even the most jaded of us. Something so deep and instinctual that we are unable to resist its charm, to look away unmoved.

For some of us our ideal garden is a real garden. One that we may have seen and always remember as our perfect vision of garden heaven. Or perhaps we are lucky enough to own it! For others the ideal garden is a thing of pure imagination and dream. Perhaps something unattainable and even the dream itself is not a thing to be shared.

The character of a garden is created by the hard and soft materials used in combination, the scale of the area and the garden�s relationship to the owner, residence and surrounding environment. Following is a collection of different garden ideas, some very real, others only imaginary.

Birds and butterflies: This beautiful garden design is full of flowers that bloom from spring through autumn. With the northwest temperatures, there may even be a few that can make it through the winter months. Many plants here have fragrant flowers, and aromatic foliage is everywhere. The garden is designed to catch anyone�s nose and offer the most beautiful of scents.

Many of the key plants are woody shrubs that need little or no annual pruning. This is the kind of garden where birds, butterflies and bouquets abound.

This type of garden plan can flourish in a site that is open and is all or mostly sunny. The design will be easy to adapt in any relatively empty yard area, but works especially well as an entryway. The plant list includes many of the familiar cottage garden favorites, but feel inspired to combine these plants with others that will provide a welcome to all who visit, in every season.

Great grasses: Discover how the combination of grasses and shrubs with evergreen plants can produce dramatic results in your garden. Ornamental grasses, including an abundance of evergreen plants, can provide lacy highlights or add texture to any garden. This theme is based on the utilization of grass to build structural and architectural plant relationships.

Lovely perennial flowers are showcased against the form and texture of the grasses.This garden is especially easy to care for, while providing ongoing interest during every season. Even in winter, the conifers will create interesting shapes -- with or without the benefit of snow.

This adaptable garden plan is suitable for any well-drained site that receives at least four hours of full sun. The dramatic focal point planting will work best in a free standing bed, especially with a backdrop of woods or mature trees. Boulders, stones and pathways of natural materials will add to its aesthetic value.

Shady northwest garden: This shady woodland retreat offers a study in foliage, presenting striking contrasts of leaf size, shape and color.

Although many key plants here will flower generously, the beautiful array of form and texture make for ongoing visual interest in every season. Many of the woody plants are evergreen, and those that are deciduous offer lovely silhouettes in winter.

None of the woody plants need pruning unless they become damaged, and most of the perennials retire quietly into dormancy without much assistance.

This garden plan is suitable for any shaded, woodsy site. It will be easy to adapt within a clearing in woods or in a mature backyard planting with at least one established, woody backdrop.

All the plants suggested for this garden are suitable for planting in a shady site, but, most prefer dappled or filtered light under shallow shade rather than deep, dense shade. Ideally, this garden will be made beneath an established, high-limbed tree canopy that provides light, broken shade and allows excellent air circulation.

The results will transform a woodsy area into a shady retreat where natives mingle with allies from all over the world.

Sunny Mediterranean: The garden design is based on sculptural plants and architectural plant relationships, with a strong emphasis on textural partnerships.

There are many flowers in this garden, but overall, the stress is on simple lines and powerful shapes. The percentage of evergreen plant material is higher than usual, making this garden especially easy to care for while providing ongoing interest in every season.

Thoughtful plant placement will create windbreaks that don�t impede the sun, thus the garden can be a haven in the quiet winter months as well as during the usual seasons.

Little or no pruning will be needed, and the annual autumn tidy session will be very light. The plant selection will harmonize large and small herbs while utilizing companion plants that create a lush garden.

Sharpening up on mower safety

As we really get moving into the mowing season, you may want a quick refresher on mower safety. Mower blades move at astonishing speeds�about 200 miles an hour. Now that's a speed that you don't want to play around with.

So, before you start your mower, make sure you are up to date with these safety guidelines:
� Always read your operator's manual and pay close attention to the warning labels on your mower.
� Be sure to dress properly. Wear eye protection and long pants, and avoid loose-fitting clothing that can get caught in controls.
Wear sneakers for protection against whirling blades�even in hot weather when it might be more comfortable to wear sandals. Be extra careful walking backward with a walk�behind mower. Don't pull back too far and run over your own toes.
� Be careful when mowing a steep slope of grass. The first thing to do is take a look at your mowing equipment.
One of the most important things to remember with a riding mower is to mow up and down slopes. But when using a walk-behind, you should mow across slopes for the greatest stability. That way, if you trip and fall, the mower is less likely to tumble on top of you. If the hillside is really ominous, get creative and plant a ground cover instead. On flatter areas, watch your speed.
Use the higher speeds only for transport to the mowing area. While you're mowing in a wide-open area, stay in control by using the medium speeds. Switch to low speeds as you're turning corners and trimming borders.
� Never allow young children to ride on mowers with the operator or operate walk-behind mowers. John Deere recommends keeping small children in the house under the supervision of an adult.
Kids move quickly, without thinking about consequences. So it's important to alert them that mowers are tools, and reinforce the lesson by keeping them out of the area. Don't give children rides on mowers, as they may interpret this as mowers are fun.
Even a ride in a tow-behind cart can confuse them. You never know when a child will come running up from behind, expecting another ride, and you may not see him or her. So, no passengers.
Remembering these guidelines can help keep you safe while mowing your lawn. Enjoy the weather and stay safe.