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One… Two… Three strikes you’re OUT!

No, I’m not referring to America’s favorite pastime of baseball. Three chances is how many times I personally give a plant to survive—and preferably thrive—in my garden. Practicality has generally overridden my passion for a pretty, but futile, plant.

 

To some gardeners this may seem a bit harsh, but in reality it has saved me a great deal of time and frustration over the years. I have a decent green thumb, and I love plants. But sometimes what I like just doesn’t work in my garden, so I cut my losses and look for another possibility.

 

Whether you’re a new gardener here in the Piedmont, or a seasoned gardener, one of your very best resources for finding plants that will flourish in your landscape is your locally owned garden center. Most of these centers have plant experts available to answer your questions. Plus, the care and quality given to the plants is exceptional at local garden centers making chances of survival greater.

 

Another great source to find what will work in your yard is to take a look at what your neighbor grows. Chances are if works for them, you have a pretty good shot at making it grow for you too.  Note that I said pretty good chance.

 

My good friend has always grown the most incredible phlox. I, on the other hand, have not had much luck, particularly when it comes to them thriving the following year after their initial planting. I’m tempted to try again every year when I see her gardens speckled with the beautiful periwinkle blossoms, but I resist.

 

This brings to mind another area where my practicality seems to rule. I love to share and swap plants with friends and family. This concept of passalong plants has been around forever. And for good reason. There are so many varieties that are so tough, so resilient, they are almost foolproof. The plants I have obtained this way also hold a special meaning for me. They remind of the place or person they came from. Always a happy thought!

 

Although it’s a bit too soon to do much planting or swapping of plants, February is a great month to tackle a hardscape project. Most of us don’t spend as much time cooking or grilling outside in the winter months as we do in the warmer months. Planning or even implementing an outdoor kitchen this month is ideal. Cooking stations can range from a simple grill area to ones that rival most indoor kitchens featuring sinks, refrigerators, wine coolers and more. The end result is highly rewarding and will ultimately enhance the value of your home!

 

This month is one of the best times to mulch, as our plants are still dormant, which makes the task of spreading it so much easier. Plus, it gives your landscape a manicured look during a season when our plants are not putting on a show.

 

If incorporating the soothing sounds of water has been on your wish list, you are in luck with the numerous options offered in today’s marketplace—from simple, easy to install tabletop fountains to full-blown ponds with waterfalls. Do-it-yourself options abound!

 

Another good project for this time of year is to build raised beds for vegetables. There are ready-to-assemble kits available, plans online or just use your imagination to build a bed that best suits your needs. Believe it or not, this month is the time to plant cool-season vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. Peas, carrots, lettuce, spinach and beets can be seeded late in February. Row covers are easy to lay over your tender seedlings on the few occasions temperatures dip below freezing.

 

Now is also a great time to design a rose bed and plant bare-root roses. If your significant other knows you all too well, and opts to give you some bare-root roses, rather than fresh cut roses for Valentine’s Day, you are one lucky gardener. Admittedly, the bare-root roses look like dead sticks with dangling roots right now, but with the proper care, they will give you years of beautiful, fragrant blooms. 

 

Perhaps when I retire, I’ll have the time and patience to give a plant more than three chances. Until then, I’m very grateful that there always seems to be an abundance of plants that I have yet to try.

 

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