Hit the Ground Gardening

“Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” -Hans Christian Andersen

Since Johnson City Public Library is hosting “Hit the Ground Gardening” a workshop covering how to prep, plant, and nourish beautiful ornamentals, it seems appropriate to highlight some of my favorite ornamentals. To reach “favorite” status, plants must have one of the following characteristics, or all in a perfect gardening world: disease resistance, true weather-hardiness, a unique feature, or practical use. Selecting plants for the garden can be frustrating and overwhelming. Expensive, too, if you are ill-equipped to reap a return on investment. Here are a few of my “tried and true” plant picks.

“Rozanne” geraniums are at the tip-top of my list. A hardy but flexible, no-fuss nature makes them ideal for mass in-ground plantings. Blooming from mid/late spring through first frost, with little maintenance required, these beauties work well as perennial fixtures in cottage and manicured gardens. Each plug will reach a spread of about 3 feet. Plant 3 or more to create visual impact.

Another of my favorites is “Walker’s Low” catmint. This plant features low growing greenery peppered with tall spikes of purple flower clusters. Each plant spreads roughly 3 feet and is another good option for mass in-ground plantings. Use 3 or more plants to edge a bed or walkway. Bloom time is lengthy, and the pollinators love it. Cut it back after the first flush of flowers is nearly exhausted, approximately mid-June, and you will be rewarded with another round of blooms that last until first frost.

To wrap up this list, I’m selecting a rose. Roses, other than “Knock-outs,” can be difficult to grow and maintain in general, but especially in areas like ours. Hot and humid summers provide open-breeding grounds for such fungal diseases as the dreaded black spot. Roses also tend to be needy and finicky – a demanding combination few can conquer. Enter “Zephirine Drouhin.” This fragrant climbing rose is marked by good disease-resistance, semi-shade tolerance, and nearly thornless canes. It blooms prolifically for an extended period, usually late May through first frost.

For more information on growing ornamentals, attend the “Hit the Ground Gardening” workshop at Johnson City Public Library on Saturday, April 7 at 2:00 pm. Registration is required, and space is limited. To register, or for more information, call 423-434-4454.

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