Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blank green canvas

This past year, our relocation to a new city prompted us to purchase a new home.  Although we have always wanted to find a property with character (maybe something historic or mid-century modern or a loft type space), we found our best choice to be new construction.  New homes have some great advantages (energy efficient, new mechanicals & appliances, up-to-date finishes, etc.), but they lack mature landscaping.
Now we have a huge blank green canvas.  What to do?  Hardscaping (patios, decks, fences) are the most expensive, but when they're in, they're done.  No waiting for them to mature.  Next come trees and shrubs.  Choose where to place them so that they will provide shade and beauty for years to come.  Perennials, for me, are the most fun.  I like that I can plant something that will come back year after year.  I can always count on them.  When they're happy and well-fed, they will grow to the point they need to be divided to thrive.  Annuals are the flashiest, but they require the most maintenance.  Planting them every year, getting them established, "dead-heading" them constantly so that they will continue to flower through the entire season.
As a leader, you are the gardener.  What are you going to put on your large blank green canvas?
Will you only have hardscapes?  You'll recruit those that already have experience and are self-starters.  They are few and far between.
Will you concentrate on trees and shrubs?  Choose carefully.  There is only room for so many and they can effect other plantings.  Once established, they can offer years of return.  They can stand on their own.
Will you fill your landscape with perennials?  These will offer a lot of variety and will come back year after year.  They work best in a large grouping.
Or will you choose the flashy, higher maintenance annuals?  These will require more of your time and offer a high return, but only for just one season.
A great garden will have a nice variety of all of these.  Everything works well together.  Those that have similar needs for water and sun are grouped together.  Colors and textures work together and enhance one another.
A great garden always needs a gardener.  Without attention, your garden gets overgrown, weeds find their way in, storms can damage...
How's your green thumb?

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