Updating the Landscape

August might not be the best time of the year to work in your garden.

Even the Monterey Bay area’s temperate climate can be uncomfortably hot for digging (if that is among your priorities).

The early morning hours can be a fine time to keep up the chores, but using that time presumes readiness for an early start and control over the day’s schedule, which is not everyone’s situation.

Still, the lazy days of summer include opportunities for creative advances in the garden.

A priority task that is too often neglected, and could be pursued now in a timely way, is the annual assessment and adjustment of the home landscape.

The assessment process can involve a slow inspection walk through the garden, but ideally includes choosing a vantage point where a comfortable seat and a cool drink will support appraising each significant plant, and envisioning the renewal of the landscape.

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Take a little time for this important task, which can guide progress during cooler days, which are not far off, and chart longer-term improvements.

Right now is also a good time for your review of the landscape because in about two months, with optimism, we will begin our rainy season. At that time, we should have new plants in the ground, because the rains will keep them watered as they become established.

This review presents a good opportunity to recruit a fellow gardener to provide a second opinion. Invite reciprocal visits with someone who both respects the current restraints on your time and resources, and brings a creative perspective to the process.

When appraising the landscape, look for…

  • Plants that have been neglected, and consequently are struggling, dying or already dead.
  • Plants that are overgrown, and have begun intruding on walkways or crowding other plants.
  • Plants that need dividing to perform well. (Dig and replant irises this month and next.)
  • Plants that were misplaced originally, and would look better in another spot.
  • Areas that would be improved by the addition of a new plant of a particular size, blossom color or form.

The last appraisal listed above will require study to identify the right plants for addition to the garden. This could involve visits to the local garden center, or reviews of printed catalogs or websites. A neighborhood stroll is always a practical approach to finding plants that would work well in your garden and flourish your local growing conditions. When you see a desirable plant, ask the homeowner to name the plant so you could search the web for its cultivation needs.

Summarize the findings of the appraisal in a task list with target dates for needed adjustments.

Regular reviews and adjustments of your landscape will keep it looking fresh and interesting. Such reviews could be done annually, as proposed here, or at the beginning of each season.

Our gardens please us because they are alive and always changing, so gardening succeeds best when gardeners interact with Nature.

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