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Gardening advice we wish we’d had

The Daily Ardmoreite
Pat Neasbitt
Master Gardener

Whether you are a beginning gardener just trying to remember the difference between annuals and perennials or an advanced gardener propagating daylilies in your own greenhouse, there are some things we all wish someone had told us. As we get ready for the spring gardening season by shopping gardening catalogs and online while it is too cold, wet, and windy to actually work outside yet, there are a few things to keep in mind to make this gardening season less work and more enjoyable.

§ They really will get as big as the tag says. You saw the tag that said the crepe myrtle would get 20’ tall and 20’ wide, but it looked so tiny and pathetic when you rescued it from the parking lot on clearance at the end of the season and planted it 2’ from the house. Five years later it really did get that big and is now overhanging the roof and threatening to block the entry to the front door. It does pay to read plant labels and space plants so they have room to reach their full potential.

• If the label says “can be aggressive”, heed the warning. I know it’s tempting to want to plant things that will spread and fill in quickly, but you don’t want to spend the next ten years trying to pull out things that take over the sidewalk, driveway, and all your other plants.

• Roses are red - and have thorns and bugs and lots of diseases. Everyone loves roses, but the reality is that they are high maintenance, have diseases like black spot, powdery mildew, and Rose Rosette Disease. They are also plagued with insects like thrips and aphids.

• Keep it simple. Don’t plant one of everything you see in the plant catalog or your yard can end up looking like a confusing hodgepodge. When planting trees and shrubs, plant only a few different ones and repeat them in various places around the yard. Plant at least three of the same perennials in a group for impact, and plant only things that will grow well in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Proven Plants and Native Oklahoma Plants should be your first choice when choosing a new tree, shrub, perennial, or annual.

• Start small. Sprawling flower beds can be beautiful but take a lot of time to weed, water, and deadhead. Avoid things that need constant pruning, dividing, or staking to keep them from overtaking all the plants near them.

• Don’t be afraid to get rid of some plants. If your “English Country Garden” just looks like a crowded mess, it’s time to thin out the number of plants. If the coneflower and garden phlox have totally taken over, it’s time to dig up some of them and share with friends or relegate them to the compost heap.

• Relax and enjoy your garden. Don’t set unrealistic standards by expecting your garden to look like those you see in magazines. They have a large staff to care for them and airbrush the pictures to make them look perfect. Stay Safe & Happy Gardening!