The end of the year is always a time for reflection, and I am reflecting on my writing over 300 blogs on our site. No world-record, but enough to mean finding your way around them can be difficult. So I thought, as my year-end piece, instead of doing ‘the best 10 blogs of 2021’, or something like that, I would try to organize some of our key blogs, and link them together by themes and topics. Printed out they would be a pretty thick book, so let’s see what some of the key chapters might look like.
Understanding and Taking Care of Your Soil
Gardening is something we quite literally do ‘from the ground up’, yet many gardeners pay little attention to their soil. You can’t do much better than follow this advice – take care of your soil and your garden will take care of itself. If you are new to gardening, and soil, take a look at this blog, 4 Things to Know About Your Garden Soil. If you are about to do some planting, and not sure what to do first, then 5 Steps to Better Soil is the place to be.
One of the most common things you will see about trees is that they like ‘well-drained soil’. But what exactly does that mean, and what do I do about it. This blog will answer all your questions.
The other thing often mentioned is the use of organic material, but what is that? Besides being a vital component in your soil, it is the key to growing a great garden without chemical fertilizers. So read up on Understanding Organic Material. One way to simultaneous help the environment and help your garden is to make your own compost. There is a mystique to home-made compost, and lots of products that supposedly make it better, but we aren’t selling those. Instead check out this two-part blog on how to Make Your Own Compost. You will find the link to part 2 at the bottom of the blog.
Designing Your Garden
I’ll be honest. Although I know all the principles of detailed garden design, I am more in favor in having a basic notion of what goes where in your garden and then letting it grow. Let the plants lead you, and let your garden evolve as it develops. But of course you do need that ‘basic notion’, so start off with this blog on Garden Design 101. Follow it up with this series, that will set you on the road to having the greatest garden you can. Design Your Garden, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 is essential reading if you want to start out right.
Often we see a certain garden, in a magazine or in a real setting, and we think, “I want my garden to look like that!” It is probably the style that catches your eye – Japanese, modern, cottage, or whatever ‘look’ it has. Get the inside info on developing a certain style for your evolving garden with this blog. Go to the several links in the opening section to see more detail on some specific styles of gardening.
Choosing the Right Plants for All Conditions
“Right plant in the right place” is the key to having a great garden. Don’t struggle to get a plant to grow where it doesn’t want to be, so let your garden, and it’s conditions, choose the plants, not the other way round! Here are some tips on Getting to Know Your Garden Better, that will help you get to grips with the basics you need to know.
Once you have that worked out, you can choose plants for specific areas so much better. Wet ground, or beside water? Here are some trees that will enjoy it, and some ideas for shrubs. Your soil turns out to be alkaline, well here you go, with some trees and shrubs that will love it. If your wondering what is means when it says ‘needs acid soil’, it all in the link. These are just a sample of the many blogs on different groups of plants.
Taking Care of Your Garden
Although many plants need only minimal care, it does take some work to keep a good garden going, and there are some basic skills that make it much easier – and much more successful. In the past, garden apprentices in Japan had to work for 7 years before they were allowed to water a plant. Get up to speed a lot quicker than that, with this two-part blog on watering outdoors and indoors. Fall cleanup is a key time of year, so get it right with some useful tips. Winter protection is always a big issue in colder zones, so here is how to do it right. And spring is always a busy season for making your garden better. Then of course there is pruning, one area where you really can get it all wrong, if you don’t know the basic concepts, or do it at the right time of year. If you want to know what you should be doing every month of the year in your garden, simply search for the month on our blog page, and there it is.
Plants, People and Proper Names
Besides all this fundamental gardening stuff, you can have fun too, reading about some of the world’s most amazing plants, like the incredibly rare Franklin’s Tree, the world’s biggest (not tallest) tree, or how incredible the simple fig tree really is. Get to know some of the personalities that have brought us plants from around the world, bred them in their backyards, been among our best women gardeners, or gone from immigrant to world-class rose breeder. Then of course there are those Latin names, variety names and trademarks – sort it all out with this explainer.
These are just a small sample of all the good stuff you can find in our blogs, but if you go to our main blog page, you can browse and search for information on just about any kind of plant.