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DIG IN!
By Kathy Hogrefe

Plan your work and work your plan…

If I had a nickel for every time my dad recited that phrase to me over the years, I’d truly be rich.

As a teenager, I used to simply roll my eyes or smile politely, depending on my mood.  I’m sure your kids never gave you responses like that as you tried to pass on similar pearls of wisdom. However, as I became an adult, I saw the merit in this old adage and still do to this day. It’s good, sound advice.

What does this saying have to do with gardening? Nothing in particular, but if you are a wise gardener, you know that February is a great month to plan for spring or to actually begin implementing that plan should we get some temperate days in the next few weeks.

One of my favorite and most rewarding February plans, more like a brainstorm, was when I decided to revamp my front walkway.  At the time, it was just a plain, old gravel path. Functional, absolutely, but it lacked the pizzazz I was longing for.

Lucky for me, my husband was on the same page. In fact, the fountain (pictured) was his doing—a wonderful, totally unexpected gift. So, with a great deal of enthusiasm, a beautiful fountain as my inspiration, a hundred or so retaining wall blocks, 600 pavers (give or take) and some rough drawings we scratched out on paper, we began to plan our work and work our plan!

 Admittedly, this project, like most we’ve done, took a bit longer than we had anticipated and was unbelievably frustrating at times, as we didn’t have a bona fide design to follow.  But in the end, it was absolutely worth the effort. It’s truly amazing how one element in the landscape can make such a marked difference.

As February kicks off, I hope you will be inspired to tackle a spring project in your landscape. Pardon the use of football lingo, but since I went there, and the Super Bowl is this Sunday—let me just say on an aside—GO PANTHERS! Here’s a team who definitely has been working their plan with great success.

If incorporating the soothing sounds of water has been on your wish list, you are in luck with the great many options offered in today’s marketplace—from simple, easy to install tabletop fountains to full-blown ponds with waterfalls. Do-it-yourself options abound!

Perhaps creating mesmerizing movement or motion in the garden is a goal. Incorporating a variety ornamental grasses, placed strategically in the landscape, creates a natural way to provide movement, but there are also incredible sculptures available for purchase that utilize the wind to help you bring your garden to life. Motion in the garden is a captivating force, particularly in the winter garden.

Maybe your desire is to create a fragrant garden, and the perfect way to do that is by planting a rose garden. If your significant other knows you all too well, and opts to give you some bare-root roses, rather than fresh cut roses for Valentine’s Day, you are one lucky gardener. Admittedly, the bare-root roses look like dead sticks with dangling roots right now, but with the proper care, they will give you years of beautiful, fragrant blooms. Now is a great time to design a rose bed and plant bare-root roses. Choose a sunny location and amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or manure. Dig a hole deep enough so that the thick joint (where stem meets root) is just at the soil surface, backfill, water and mulch 2-3 inches to help retain moisture as the roots become established.

Another good project for this time of year is to build raised beds for vegetables. There are ready-to-assemble kits available, plans online or just use your imagination to build a bed that best suits your needs. Believe it or not, this month is the time to plant cool-season vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. Peas, carrots, lettuce, spinach and beets can be seeded late in February. Row covers are easy to lay over your tender seedlings on the few occasions temperatures dip below freezing.

Whether your projects for the garden are big, small or somewhere in between, I encourage you to make a plan that will help you get the most enjoyment from your landscape. Although fulfilling this plan might not be easy, especially if it is a large undertaking like my front walk facelift, I can assure you it will be rewarding and worthwhile!









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