Episode 55 – The Art of Enjoying Your Garden

Ground Breaking Banter - Rick

  • Push the envelope. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t beat yourself up over it. Gardeners surveyed estimate they had lost about 30% of their plants to date. The “death rate” was higher for newbies as it was for experienced gardeners. And time and experience does improve the success of your efforts—so keep that in mind the next time you feel like throwing in the trowel. On average gardeners failed to keep 30% of their plants alive. Understand gardening is a lifelong investment (and you win some and you lose some)
  • Gardening truly is more about the journey than about the destination. Stop thinking of gardening as a “hobby”, it’s a lifestyle. Instagram helped do that.
  • Your garden only lasts as long as you do, but it will bring you joy throughout your life even when the deer try your patience.You should have scent and beauty right where you walk each and every day.
  • Rescue some plants (bargains) and “bring them back to life”
  • Plant things where you can see them coming and going or to enjoy during inclement weather (through the windows)
  • Automate your watering. Grow some plants in containers with irrigation already installed.
  • Size the garden for the resources you have. Embrace container gardening. Gives you license to be creative and change your mind. Easier to maintain than ground plantings. It’s fun to buy containers.
  • Buy good tools and have plenty of them.
  • Evaluate your clothing. Are your pants too tight or falling down? Do you prefer athletic wear to work in? As runners we know a moisture-wicking fabric has two jobs: one is quickly moving (or wicking) sweat to the fabric’s outer surface, and the other is drying rapidly so that your sweat doesn’t saturate the fabric.  Garden wear? Jorts? If you are unfamiliar with the term, the word stems from combining the words jeans and shorts.
    They are a longer pair of shorts that sit below the knee or just above and can also be baggy.
  • Cheaper than a gym membership and you don’t have to get in your car and fight traffic to get there.
  • Grow plants for others that you can share. And share knowledge.
  • Mix in plants that need minimal attention. Fall plant some garlic!
  • Plant bird and pollinator friendly plants: brings life to the garden 365 days
  • Incorporate some plants that have 3 to 4 seasons of interest
  • Have paths and seating in your garden. Paths are great for anticipation (what’s around the next corner) and seating gives you license to nap in your “outdoor room.”
  • Work in bite size pieces and grow what you love
  • Grow stuff you can eat
  • Consider building raised beds
  • Probably one of the most rewarding parts about creating a garden is wanting to actually be outside enjoying it, instead of inside on electronic devices.

This week’s word of the day is: PROCRASTIPLANTING (verb): when you have a million things to do but ignore them all and tend to your plants instead.

And this week’s Lim-A-Rick:

I create beauty with flowers at my chateau

Then wander the garden with an espresso

Life is good

In my neighborhood

Just call me Vincent Van Grow.

Why: Today’s plant on trial is Gatsby Gal oakleaf hydrangea, because a plant that looks fantastic and does what it’s supposed to without you having to do anything to it is a great way to enjoy your garden! Even if you don’t consider yourself a gardener, per se, it’s a shrub you can include in your landscaping and pretty much never think about again but it will always look great – and that’s saying something, especially for a hydrangea, which most people think of as tricky. Gatsby Gal oakleaf hydrangea is particularly suited to today’s plant on trial because at 5-6’ tall and wide, it is much smaller than other oakleaf hydrangeas, which reach 8’ tall and well beyond.

One of the best things about oakleaf hydrangeas is that they are true four-season plants – again, not something that most hydrangeas can boast, as winter is not typically their strongest time. But oakleaf hydrangeas come out in spring with big, fuzzy, white buds that unfurl to lightly haired oak-shaped leaves. Come summer, the big cone-shaped flowers appear, followed by the best display of fall color of any hydrangea. The leaves turn red and burgundy and just generally look spectacular. Finally, they drop and reveal its beautiful, sculptural frame and rich brown peeling bark. They really do have an amazing and stately presence in the garden and landscape.

Who: Gatsby Gal hydrangea was developed by Doug and Brenda Hill of Blackwood Crossing Garden Center in Cleveland, Alabama. Doug sadly passed away last July – this plant’s cultivar is Brenhill, for his wife Brenda and co-developer of this and Gatsby Moon hydrangea. Their garden center is squarely within the native range of oakleaf hydrangeas, so it’s not surprising that they’d select such glorious varieties – in fact, oakleaf hydrangea is the state wildflower of Alabama.

How to grow: Oakleaf hydrangeas are some of the easiest to grow of all hydrangeas. They are the most flexible in terms of how much light they get, though in deep shade, they will flower much less and their fall color won’t be as vivid and appealing. They don’t need any pruning, though you can prune out individual branches to develop a more striking habit. 

Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, which means they start forming their flower buds for the following season almost as soon as they’ve completed blooming during the current one. Unlike big leaf hydrangeas, which also bloom on old wood, oakleaf hydrangeas exhibit better flower and leaf bud cold hardiness so will rarely experience winter dieback, nor will their flower buds be damaged by winter cold or spring frosts. They’re practically foolproof, provided you live within USDA zones 5-9.

If you’d like to add Gatsby Gal oakleaf hydrangea – or any of the 320+ Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs – to your garden or landscape, you’ll find a list of local retailers here

Gardening Mail Bag - Stacey

Do you have a question for us? We’re happy to help! E-mail us or use the contact tab above. Due to high volume, we may not get to your question, so if you need an answer quickly, please reach out via the Proven Winners website.

Branching News - Rick

A friend’s home – 30%

My vehicle – 28%

Public transportation (bus, subway, train, plane) – 27%

Beach – 25%

Movie theater – 24%

Cafe or restaurant – 24%

Library – 23%

Park – 23%

Doctor’s office – 23%

Pool – 22%

Corporate office – 22%

Museum or art gallery – 22%

Store – 20%

  • Throw a clove of garlic in your toilet? This website claims that all you need to do is take a single clove of garlic and drop it into your toilet bowl before going to bed. As you sleep, the garlic releases its natural aroma, which comes from something called allicin, known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. These compounds work to neutralize odors, leaving your bathroom smelling much fresher by morning.  Suffice it to say, we’re highly dubious on this one…
  • The squirrels are excited it’s almost Halloween! They go “nuts” in October when it’s pumpkin eating time. Squash and pumpkins are an appealing food source for them, so don’t be surprised to find your display nibbled. If you’re aiming to prevent damage, don’t use something that could harm them – they’re only acting naturally, after all.
  • Poison ivy is poised to be one of the big winners in global warming. Scientists expect the dreaded three-leafed vine will take full advantage of warmer temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to grow faster and bigger — and become even more toxic. Experts who have studied this plant for decades warn there are likely to be implications for human health. They say hikers, gardeners, landscapers and others may want to take extra precautions — and get better at identifying this plant — to avoid an itchy, blistering rash.  
  • Now here’s some great news: the BBC is reporting a “butterfly comeback.” The number of butterflies in the UK has risen to its highest level since 2019, according to conservationists. Research by the Butterfly Conservation wildlife charity recorded more than 1.5 million butterflies and day-flying moths between 14 July and 6 August. The red admiral was the most spotted across the UK with 248,077 being recorded in the charity’s research. Conservationists believe butterflies have benefited from the wetter weather this year – with 12 butterflies recorded on average per count compared to nine in 2022’s long periods of drought and HEAT Dr Richard Fox, head of science at Butterfly Conservation, said one of the biggest threats facing butterflies was habitat loss. “Butterflies need a place to live,” he said. “If they can feed, breed and shelter, they can thrive.”