01 June 2012

Simple Gardening: Part 1

This post is written by contributing author Laurie Fortier. 

I love flower gardening. We moved into our current home 8 years ago. There was not one plant in the yard. There were a few sick trees that we had to cut down, and that was it. I now how flower beds all around the house, the garden and the pool. I often receive compliments on my gardens. Although I am pleased that people appreciate them, there is no magic involved. I do not have a green thumb! Anyone can have a beautiful garden. Successful gardening revolves around knowing 4 things:

1. Your zone


Different plants grow in different areas. A plant will grow in it’s zone and in the zones below it. I live in a zone 4. I can grow things from zones 1 to 4, but not 5 and up. It is important to know this because garden shops carry plants that don’t grow in your zone. Just because they sell it, doesn't mean that you can grow it. Buying plants that are not from your zone will cause unnecessary work and disappointment.

2. Amount of sunlight

If you plant a shade plant in the sun, it will wither. If you plant a sun plant in the shade it will grow, but not flower. Observe the sun in your yard for a whole day and you will have a good idea of the difference between full sun, part sun, part shade and full shade.

3. Amount of water 
It’s like Goldilocks and the three bears, it has to be « just right »! People tend to over water. The only time plants need a lot of water is when they have just been planted or during a dry spell. The most eco-friendly choice is to choose plants that don't need a lot of water and to collect rain water for your watering needs.

4. Type of soil 
Dry, wet, rocky, alkaline, sandy, no one has perfect soil in their yard, but there are plants that will flourish in all these kinds of soils. You just need to choose the right ones.

Fortunately, most plant producers make this easy for us. They indicate these four elements on the label that they include with the plant.

This label is very detailed and takes away all the "guess work"!

A little research will go a long way and is really the secret to having a green thumb! We have to resist the temptation of buying a beautiful plant if we don't have the proper conditions for it to grow. The plant will not flourish and we will think that we are no good at gardening.

Is that really all there is to gardening? It is more than enough to get you on your way to beautiful gardens. The only other question is, How much work do you want to do? We’ll take a look at that question next month!

So tell me, how does your garden grow?

Laurie Fortier has been a teacher of languages, psychology and pedagogy for over 26 years. Her passion for learning and sharing knowledge permeates everything she does. Her transition into blogging seems to be a natural step. She blogs about her love of knitting and natural fibers in addition to owning her own online yarn shop where supporting sustainable development guides all her business decisions. Connect to Laurie via twitter and facebook.


  1. This information is SO helpful. I plan on starting a garden when we move into the new house, so I need all the tips I can get. :-) I had no idea about "zones" for example.

  2. That's great Paige! You'll have to let us know how it goes. Buying the right plant for your zone really helps avoid frustration and disappointment. I unfortunately learned that the hard way!

  3. Great info Laurie. I wish so much I had a big sunny yard that could be a garden full of food.
    Everyday Inspired

    1. I hope you can find even a little corner Valerie. Gardening is so good for the soul!

  4. Thank you for breaking it down into simple steps!

    Although I think someone with a "pitch black" thumb —like myself— will still kill some plants before getting the hold of it. (I confess, sometimes I blatantly disregard the info on the plant's label... I tell myself I'd rather "listen to the plant itself"... Then they die screaming.)

    1. You always make me laugh! Even with "tips" there is always a process of trial and error. I've had many plants scream and die too! Eventually we get the hang of it!