06 July 2012

Simple Gardening: Part 2

This post is written by contributing author Laurie Fortier.
Last month I talked about the four things you need to be aware of to have a successful flower garden: zone, sunlight, water and soil. The only other question is how much do you want to work? I love "working" in my garden, but not to the point of exhaustion. (which I have done more often than I would like to admit!). I would much rather sit and knit or read in my garden, enjoying the scents and the colors than working so hard that I miss it all.

What to do? Here are four more tips that can help you judge what you do and don't like to do in your garden.

1. Mulch

This is the gardener's secret weapon. I do not weed my garden all summer. I clean my flowerbeds in the spring and cover the dirt with cedar mulch. Mulching keeps the weeds from growing, keeps the soil moist and is biodegradable. A few weeds may still pop up, but removing them will take minutes rather than hours.

2. No deadheading

Many flowers need to have the dead flowers pinched off (deadheading) to encourage more to grow. This is a lot of work. More and more types of flowers are designed not to need deadheading. These are the ones that I plant! Some people can't stand the "mess" of dead flowers and have to cut them off. It is a personal choice. But, if you have hardy roses like these, leaving the flowers allows the hips (rose fruits) to grow which will be a delight for birds in the fall and winter!

3. Respect plant dimensions

We all tend to plant plants too close together. It’s our need for instant gratification. The problem is that if the directions say, "plant 12 inches apart", that means the plant will spread 12 inches. If the other plants are too close after a year or two you will have to dig everything up, divide the plants and replant them elsewhere. This has the advantage of giving you more plants for yourself or to share, but it is a lot of work. I will have to separate these soon, but I'll wait until fall!

4. No pesticides! No home made remedies!

If you follow the directions in the first section, you do not need anything but compost once in the spring to have beautiful flowers! Learn about the plants you like and see whether they are "high maintenance" or not, before you plant them. Some plants like phlox get mildew. There really is nothing you can do about it. If you love phlox, plant it in the back of the garden where you won't see the mildewed leaves. Many people fight annual battles with slugs in their hosta plants, even putting out traps to drown them. I find that a bit too violent for my taste. The alternatives are accepting the holes in the leaves or planting hostas that don't attract slugs.

So, there you have it, my secrets for a beautiful and simple flower garden. Be patient and respect yourself. Your garden is for you, not the neighbors. Plant what you like and work as much or as little as you like. As long as you are enjoying what you are doing, you're doing it right!

What are your gardening secrets that you can share with us?

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. I have to deadhead. Don't like the look of the dead blooms. Our terrible heat has really destroyed the gardens this year. Hopefully when it finally cools off in a couple of days, we will be able to salvage some of it. Great post. :)

  2. Thanks so much! Like I said, to each her own in gardening! I really hope it cools off and rains for you and the plants soon!

  3. I put crushed eggshells around the bases of plants that attract slugs, this is natural but keeps the slugs at bay.Rx


  4. I'm with you except I'm like ImSoVintage, I have to deadhead. It's like a compulsion. I actually find it kind of relaxing. I do it first thing in the morning right after my walk.

    1. Like I said, Lynette, if it's relaxing for you then you're doing it right! I hope you get some rain and cooler weather soon!

  5. More great tips Laurie. I only planted veggies this year and keeping them watered is all the gardening I want to do with all the heat we have had. I would be nice if it would rain, we have not had any in a couple of weeks. Thanks for sharing.
    Everyday Inspired

  6. I like having a lot of perennials. They don't need to be fussed over as much as annuals, which tend to need much water, for one.