Perfect Time for a Garden Critique

With the Fourth of July here, most plants in the garden have filled out to their maximum for the year. This makes it the perfect time to take a critical look at their placement.

Lillies under a peartree in my back garden. These require careful division each year because they are exceptionally fast growing.

You can easily see which plants will benefit from a move in the fall. Even though I try to respect the garden tags which show mature sizes of the plants when I buy them, they are not always accurate. It is also the perfect time to look closely at the perennials to see which ones are candidates for being split. Long ago I heard a phrase that is very accurate about perennials: The first year they sleep, the second they creep, and the third year they leap. If you follow that rule, every third year or so you would split or divide them. I find it helps to keep a notebook on this, because as your garden grows, there can be a lot to remember! In my garden I do the plant moving between mid-October and mid-November, but in your region, just pick a time after they are past their peak for the year, but still have time for the roots to establish before the full effects of winter are upon them.

That brings up another topic — the effects of winter. We had a couple of severe winters recently, and with them a lot of snow damage. I try to remove all the broken branches, but then leave them alone for a year to see if they will recover, before reshaping them back to a natural point. By doing this you can see where the plant can redirect its existing branches, and if it can fill in the holes left by the damage. If it isn’t going to be able to heal, by that point, I like to replace it with another.

In this garden I will be adding 3 Crepe Myrtle trees to help with the intense summer exposure.

I also like to evaluate how the plants are doing with regard to the sun exposure that they get.  Even if a plant is one that can tolerate full sun, it may need some respite from the intense afternoon sun, or moved to a location that gets a half-day worth of sun.

It is also a good time to trim up the lowest tree branches. If you keep them limbed up to six or seven feet it makes it much easier to mow and to stand under them.

Not that I need any more reasons to go out and enjoy my garden, but it is really gratifying to walk the entire yard and check out how things have grown. It is an important step to critique and edit, and I love planning towards the next year and beyond. Time to go enjoy the fruits of your labor, and don’t forget your notebook!

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