Dreaming: Ideas to inspire
Winter’s white wonderland certainly is beautiful, but if you are longing for green, why not start dreaming? With no daily gardening demands to consume your time spend it planning out projects for the upcoming gardening season. Take note of what worked and what didn’t last year, perhaps there is an area of the yard that you want to renovate? Maybe you’ve been dreaming of putting in a pond, wondering what to do to break up some empty space, or have decided to add more container plantings this year. No matter what it is that you’ve been dreaming about doing, you can find inspiration from others. Take out your old gardening books or cruise Pinterest and find some fabulous ideas to implement in your own garden next year.
Here are some interesting ideas on things you can do with containers, pathways, water features and vegetable gardens from some of our previous issues. We hope they give you some inspiration. If you see something that gets you excited for spring share it on Facebook with us.
Make a choice to include containers in your garden this year. Vamp up your entrance way with different sizes and shapes, go with a colour theme or just go wild. Add some hanging baskets, wall planters or unusual containers to the mix.
The general rule of thumb with containers is to plant a thriller, spiller and filler; but don’t just bow down to the usual flowers, explore all of the different plant options available. Try tropicals, succulents or miniature trees. That said, don’t dismiss containers overflowing with one flower or die hard favourites, just add them to the mix.
Most homeowners use containers around their decks, porches and on solid surfaces; why not go rogue this year? Containers look extraordinary when placed within a flower bed, especially when they are surrounded by groundcover. They can also create beautiful statements when placed in the lawn, along a path, or just about anywhere.
Add a touch of whimsy by adding a fairy or gnome garden in a container. If you don’t want to be burdened with extra watering chores consider leaving out the plants and use statues, stones and shells for a base.
Upcycling, or repurposing materials for another use is on the rise, especially in the garden. It should be no surprise, gardeners have been using antiques in the garden for years – old steel or wood cart wheels, bicycles, milk cans, barrels, the list goes on.
Upcycling can add personality to the garden and create a funky feel. How do you keep it funky, not junky? Don’t overdo it and create a storyboard for your additions. For example, if you’re adding an old wagon wheel, accent it by placing some milk jugs, a chicken statue, and some containers filled with plants around it.
Step outside of the ordinary when considering containers. Old grass seeders, wash basins, soup tureens, a set of tea cups, a tire, an old pair of shoes or the kid's old rain boots; the options are limitless once you start brainstorming. So next time you think about throwing something away, think, can I put a plant in that?
If you have odds and sods from old garden projects lying around (rocks, bricks, etc.) don’t just discard them, put on your thinking cap and find a way to use them as well. One handy gardener found a creative way to incorporate all those odd shaped bits into an interesting pathway.
Garden paths are romantic and seem to say, come follow me. How you create your pathway is up to you and your choices are limitless, from rocks to cedar chips, straw to recycled rubber, concrete to natural stone, to just plain grass; what you choose will not only set the stage for the plants it will show off but determine the look and amount of upkeep you will be required to do. Natural pathways that use woodchips, tiny stones or other mulch are beautiful, however, know that they will require landscape fabric underneath them to prevent weed growth and you will still need to pull weeds or spray to keep the path clear. The upside is that weeds are easy to pull with the fabric below.
A simple but beautiful path can be created by placing flat rocks or stepping stones flush into the lawn. The stones create contrast against the green grass, drawing people in and leading them down the path. These are easy to upkeep as your lawnmower will cut right over the stones as long as they are placed flush into the dirt.
For even more romance make your path meander along instead of going in a straight line. It makes you wonder what is just beyond that last turn. Use spreading plants as groundcover around the trees to create a woodland feel.
Why not try raised vegetable beds this year? They look neat and tidy and can be easier on sore backs. The best vegetable gardens include a mixture of flowers and vegetables. So many flowers are beneficial for the edible garden, attracting pollinators and repelling pests, consider companion planting for garden health and beauty this year.
Who says you have to stick to a rulebook? Un-uniformed can be just as beautiful as uniformed. The mixed mediums used in the top left garden work well together – from two by four raised beds to wicker edging, boxwood hedging and an old picket fence. For a more natural look, one of our gardeners used debarked tree trunks for the garden edging and smaller debarked trees for support poles and siding. Wire fencing is not only used to keep scavengers out, but also as a trellis for peas or beans to climb over on an A-frame they constructed. Creating A-frames for climbers also allows you to grow shade lovers or heat intolerant plants like lettuce in the shade provided by the climbing crop.
Add the charming sounds of a babbling brook by installing a water feature or fountain this year. Whether it is a creek, pond, or a fountain you decide upon, you are sure to enjoy its melodic melody all summer.
Ponds and creeks can break up a large space or fill a long narrow one. Give them a natural look by blending them in with plants and natural looking stones. One of our gardeners turned most of his back yard into a pond complete with gazebo, bridge and a small island but you needn't get that carried away. Small ponds can be beautiful too. If you like the look of a creek but don’t want to deal with the maintenance, build a dry creek bed, they too can add a stunning look to the yard.
Fountains are a less invasive way to include a water feature. Many spaces can benefit from a fountain – place one on a deck or balcony if space is limited. Larger yards can make the fountain centre stage; we’ve seen our gardeners surround fountain bases with flowers, place them in water features, make them the focal point of merging pathways and blend them in with plants.