Journal Pioneer - - PRINCE COUNTY - Mark & Ben Cullen Mark Cullen is an ex­pert gar­dener, au­thor, broad­caster, tree ad­vo­cate and Mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth­gen­er­a­tion ur­ban gar­dener and grad­u­ate of Univer­sity of Guelph and Dal­housie Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax. Fol­low th

For gar­den­ers the long­est sea­son is ‘dream­ing’ sea­son.

There are sev­eral sea­sons on the gar­dener’s cal­en­dar and one of the long­est is the “dream­ing” sea­son. We are cur­rently in the mid­dle of it. If you are a gar­dener, now is the time to dream of the gor­geous and pro­duc­tive gar­den that can be. Ev­ery­thing that we know in the real world starts with a dream or, at the very least, an idea. So it is, with your gar­den. Which raises the ques­tion, “How do I en­sure suc­cess in cre­at­ing the gar­den of my dreams?” Here are the an­swers: Start with what Mother Na­ture gave you. Whether you live with a condo/apart­ment with a bal­cony or acreage, the se­cret to find­ing the path to the ful­fill­ment of your gar­den dreams is to watch na­ture.

Take note of where the sun comes up (in the east), where it goes down on your prop­erty and how it il­lu­mi­nates your prop­erty mid-day. Though the long­est day of the year is five months away, mid-day in June is not much dif­fer­ent than mid-day in Jan­uary, ex­cept the sun is higher and stronger.

Also, note how the wind moves across your prop­erty or bal­cony. West and north-west ex­po­sure will limit your plant se­lec­tion some­what.

Be in­formed about your nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment as this will help you make in­tel­li­gent plant buy­ing de­ci­sions later. De­sign around Na­ture. Once you have taken note of what Mother Na­ture has given you, con­sider how you can use it. For in­stance, frame a great view us­ing plants. And avoid oblit­er­at­ing

a good view by plant­ing a tree that will grow through it. If you have a nat­u­rally rocky ter­rain, in­cor­po­rate some large rocks into your land­scape. Do you have el­e­va­tions to deal with? Use them to your ad­van­tage to cre­ate nat­u­ral beauty at the bot­tom of a de­cline, or at the top of an in­cline. Ei­ther way, you will im­prove the view that you cur­rently live with by draw­ing the eye to na­ture, rather than let­ting a be­nign or un­nat­u­ral fea­ture dom­i­nate the land­scape. Where do you want to go? The most im­por­tant de­ci­sion you will make, re­gard­ing the de­sign of your gar­den, will be the path sys­tem. As you step out of your door, where do you want your paths to take you? Deep into the yard, or straight to the bar­be­cue? On a piece of paper, draw an out­line of your yard and then cre­ate lines of the path or paths that will lead you to key des­ti­na­tions – and think of the el­e­ments you can dot along the way, such as unique plants or wa­ter fea­tures. Re­mem­ber not to have any dead-end paths as vis­i­tors will hes­i­tate to go down them. Hon­our your past. We all have child­hood mem­o­ries of plants and gar­dens some­where in the back of our minds. Our sense of smell is lo­cated high up the nasal pas­sage, it is called the ol­fac­tory ep­ithe­lium — a patch of tis­sue about the size of a postage stamp. It cre­ates dis­tinct mem­o­ries in the frontal lobe of your brain where it stores them for quite some time. That is why the smell of a lilac blos­som might trig­ger an im­age of your grand­mother’s gar­den. The point is to em­brace those mem­o­ries, whether they are vis­ual or merely scents that take you back in time. Let your gar­den lead you on a jour­ney to your child­hood.

Plan for an ex­tended sea­son. Mark calls this “a se­quence of high gar­den per­for­mance.” It in­volves plan­ning to have some­thing sig­nif­i­cant in bloom from the be­gin­ning to the end of the sea­son. Keep in mind that the sea­son never ends as early as you think it will. Other an­nu­als that just keep on go­ing into the early frost of late fall in­clude dusty miller, pan­sies and hardy ivies.


Path­way in a gar­den.

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