Today’s column follows last week’s column suggesting three priorities for gardening while maintaining social distance during this difficult period. Many print and electronic media channels address the rapidly changing financial and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. We’re all greatly concerned about those impacts but for the moment, let’s just think about gardening.
- Care for Your Garden
After each year’s vernal equinox, many plants spring into growth and begin a season of vigorous development and delightful blossoms. Gardeners often can do well by simply enjoying the season through frequent walls through the garden and observing Nature’s small miracles. A good garden has a few seats to accommodate reflection, perhaps with a cool beverage. Take occasional opportunities to meditate about your plants and life.
During a recent walk garden walk, I was surprised that my Madeira Island Geranium (Geranium maderense) was blooming. I had cut it back after year’s blooms. I understood it to be a biennial and expected to wait a while for more flowers, but here it is. It’s the most giant geranium, 4-5 feet high and wide.
When you can no longer resist do some weeding. Set aside an hour or two each day to clear weeds from an area that’s large enough to make a difference and produce a Gardener’s Endorphin Rush, while small enough to complete within the budgeted hour. It’s also good mild exercise to offset the stay-at-home doldrums.
Landscapers might or might not be available for garden development and maintenance, but the National Association of Landscape Professionals advocates classification of landscape services as “essential.”
In any case, most if not all garden centers and garden exchanges are closed temporarily, so adding to your landscape might require swapping plants with gardening friends (while maintaining a healthy distance).
- Advance Your Gardening Knowledge
Develop a learning plan to suit your individual needs and interests. For example, list your favorite plants in your garden and devote an hour a day to learning about each of them. There are excellent print resources for such a project, e.g., Sunset’s “Western Garden Book” and American Horticultural Association’s “A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants.”
The Internet provides easy and free access to great amounts of gardening information. A very good place to start is Wikipedia.com, which has detailed information on almost all plants. Other good general sources are San Marcos Growers’ Plant Index, www.missouribotanicalgarden.org, and National Gardening Associations’ Plants Database.
A future column will include sources of information for specific plant genera.
The best searches will be for the plant’s botanical name , which usually can be found, if necessary, by starting with the common name. Many plant names include a cultivar name, which might be of interest, but if you’re looking primarily for cultivation advice, the genus & species will be fine.
Knowing your plants’ seasonal development and cultivation needs contributes greatly to gardening enjoyment and success.
- Enrich Your Gardening Days
The Internet’s many social features offer the gardener both “infotainment” and addiction potential. Rationing your time to about an hour each day would be good ideas.
There’s an abundance of garden-related blogs and videos, many providing opportunities to comment or even to dialog with the producers. Here are five to check out:
Gardening Gone Wild – A group of talented gardeners bring diverse perspectives to the topic.
Success with Succulents – Debra Lee Baldwin’s website, from southern California, offers expert, non-technical advice on growing, displaying, and landscaping with succulent plants.
Garden Answer – Laura LeBoutillier demonstrates hands-on gardening in her expansive garden in Oregon and offers practical advice.
Plant One on Me – Summer Rayne Oaks shares her wealth of knowledge and experience with growing houseplants in Brooklyn, NY, and tours public gardens and large-scale nurseries for more ideas.
Facebook: On Gardening. Do visit my Facebook page for “garden notes,” which are brief current updates from my own garden. The examples and ideas are fully appropriate and timely for gardens and gardeners in the Monterey Bay area and other summer-dry regions.
Enjoy your gardens and gardening and stay healthy.
Karwin is past president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, Monterey
Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, and Monterey Bay Iris Society, and a
Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). Visit ongardening.com for previous columns.
Send comments or questions to email@example.com or facebook.com/thomaskarwin.