Over the last week, hundreds of you took the time to share thoughts about gardening in the hopes of winning Spring Fling Garden Giveaway prizes. Your responses came in from far-flung places like New York City and Toronto to Kansas, Oregon, Ohio, Texas and California.
In fact, I got so many great comments, I’m sharing several here. Because when it comes to gardening, you’ll see there are many more winners out there than just the lucky folks who happened to win these random drawings.
Encore Azaleas and Authentic Haven Brand
Question: What symbolizes spring to you?
Winner of Random Drawing: Lydia Habr, who said, “My favorite sign of spring is the driveway at my Oregon house when the hundreds of daffodils that we planted … are all in glorious bloom.”
You All Said: “Spring is a sign of new life and a refreshing time of renewal,“ explains Diana Goings. Geri Laufer says spring is “wild wisteria festooning Georgia forests and … springtime fragrances that waft through the air.” Tina Kozma agrees,”My favorite part of spring is that smell, when you walk outside, that clean fresh smell.”
The sounds and sightings of swallowtails, robins, chickadees and other birds, were cited by folks like Dana, Susie Jordan and Tom M.
Flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs, such as cherry blossoms, azaleas, forsythia, daffodils and tulips were also mentioned. Leeann Barron likes the native Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) tree, which attracts hummingbirds. Mary Ellen Gambutti enjoys spring’s “blue scilla and chionodoxa, the purple muscari and the yellow crocuses.”
For Cindy, however, spring will always mean the white irises known as ‘The Heritage Cemetery Iris,’ which her father gave her 30 years ago. ”We’ve moved them from home to home over the years and shared them with many friends.”
Victoria Bishop describes spring as a time when ”the neighborhood children are outside playing. I can go about the house barefooted. And I am no longer the only customer browsing at the nursery.”
For Kate, “it is also first sightings of very white legs appearing in public as people haul their summer shorts out of winter storage! Oy vey!”
Corona Tools and Authentic Haven Brand
Question: How do you save time in the garden?
Winner of Random Drawing: meemsnyc, who wrote, “when I go out to the garden, I try to pull some weeds if I’m harvesting or planting seedlings. It makes the chore of pulling weeds less annoying.”
You All Said:
Carry your tools as you work. Melanie (baconseed) shared this popular tip, “I have a garden tote that has lots of pockets and I fill it when I first go outside … so that I don’t have to keep stopping to go back to the shed for things.”
Marlene added, “There are carts on wheels to keep your larger tools, such as racks and hoes, [which] make transporting them so much easier…” Deanna Tworivers has “a little rolling seat with a storage compartment” for her gloves and favorite tools. Have a large property? Tom M suggests, “Use an old mailbox to store hand tools in those distant parts of your garden.”
Don’t forget to keep tools clean and organized. Chrissy says, “all my tools are put back on the hooks in the shed, or in season, I keep a basket of tools on my front porch, that doubles as a weed/debris collector.”
Mulching is a big time saver too, says Lisa Deutsch, Tessa and others. Lisa S. suggests “to use a thick layer of newspaper under mulched beds and wood-chipped pathways. It helps smother the weeds, at least for a little while.”
Denece Vincent recommends drip irrigation to save time and resources, while preventing plant diseases. She says, “I set mine to water an hour before sun-up so the water soaks in and doesn’t evaporate. It also keeps the water off the leaves which helps minimize … fungal diseases.”
Note-taking is important too. Many of you carry notebooks to keep records. Jan takes pictures of what she plants and where. “With the photos, I know what is ‘supposed’ to be there. … It helps so I don’t plant on top of a plant, or worse, destroy a plant/dig one up.”
Helen at Toronto Gardens takes pictures of her plant tags. This saves time, because “all the tags (complete with cultivar name, mature height/width and care info) are easily referenced in the same place!”
Best idea ever? Get others to help. Victoria and Lara get their husbands involved. Others, like Petunia GreenBeans, get their kids to help by making it a game. The Victory Garden Foundation makes a party out of garden chores by inviting friends, family and neighbors “to help do the weeding, feeding, pruning, and planting.” There is live music and food served too.
But some just don’t want to save time in the garden. As Lori Creighton explains, “I work at a computer all day and when I get home I want to take my time with my garden tasks. I’ll often stay out until it’s getting dark … I’ll sit on the porch swing and listen to the bugs.”
Soji Solar Lanterns from aHa! Modern Living
The Question: What earth-friendly things are you doing around your home and garden?
Winner of Random Drawing: Judi Brawer has been removing her grass and “replacing it with drought tolerant plants, rock and yard sculpture. Last summer I was able to turn off a number of sprinklers and converted my garden sprinklers to a drip system. My friends and I are going to have a plant exchange. I am also going … to the North End Nursery this weekend for ladybugs!”
You All Said: Everyone is doing their part in different ways. Some save water with rain barrels, such as Lara. Others “use cloth napkins, never plastic items,” such as Lorriane. In Maine, Kerry encourages her kids to ride bikes more often, rather than be driven around everywhere. While others recycle furniture for their porches like Stacie, or build vertical herb planters from recycled materials like Shannon.
Michael Nolen says, “I made the conscious decision to not use any chemicals whatsoever on our homestead property. If nature couldn’t make it on her own, it doesn’t belong in my gardens.” While Stacy says, “With a 7-year-old son, it’s an everyday goal to teach him that lifestyle.
Composting is popular with Tom M., Jessica, Miki Wright, Gisele and others. Mary Bachmeyer even saves her kitchen waste for a neighbor’s composter.
Others are reconsidering lawn care needs. Kylee from Our Little Acre talked her husband into not using a general weed killer for their lawn this spring. “We have our own well,” she explains. “So I worry about the chemicals making their way into the ground water. We also have cats and of course, the usual insects and birds and native wildlife. I feel better about not having those nasty chemicals around!”
If that wasn’t enough, some raise bees such as Robin and Diana Goings. Others raise chickens for eggs and more.
“All kitchen scraps/garden waste goes to the chickens,” claims Jules. “They are my composters. The chicken waste is spread on the garden, then tilled in. I use no chemical fertilizers or weed killers on any of our gardens.”
P. Allen Smith and Authentic Haven Brand
The Question: Who or what inspired you to garden?
Winner of Random Drawing: Teresa remembers her mother taking her to the local nursery as a young girl. “While she shopped for plants, I played under the plant tables… I still remember the smells… so natural, fresh, and warm. I’ve lived all over the country, but now I live within 50 miles of that nursery, being run by the next generation. I shop there as often as I can, and I still get a wonderful feeling…”
You All Said: Whether you lived in the city or the country, it often was your grandparents or parents that first inspired you to garden. In Marlene’s case, it was a great-grandmother, “who was a wonderful gardener.”
Traci Bismonte lived in a co-op without a yard for planting things, but that didn’t stop her family one bit. “My parents used planters and window ledges, our balcony and any other open spaces they could find to create our city farm,” she recalls. “We always had fresh herbs, home grown tomatoes and beautiful flowers for our home.”
SaraU was influenced by her father. “We would pour over the seed catalogs and plan out the garden, tend the soil, plant the seeds, and reap the harvest.” says SaraU. ”There’s a favorite family photo of he and I standing in the garden with me gesturing at the beauty of it all!”
Jill Reeves feels the same way. “We moved around a lot as a child because my dad was an Army officer,” she recalls, “but he always had a garden. In North Carolina it was roses. In Kentucky it was vegetables. In Germany it was a rented plot outside of Frankfurt.”
Suzanne still remembers the lovely aroma of her grandmother’s garden. “We seldom made the long drive across country to visit,” she explains, ”but I remember once when I was very young, being amazed at her garden full of vegetables and flowers, including snapdragons. I wanted to smell and touch everything.
This gardening knowledge is often passed on to future generations. Holly Ward spoke for many when she said her childhood garden was the center of activity in her home. “We learned at an early age the importance of self sustaining living,” says Holly. ”My gardening wisdom … has been passed to my children and we are now involved in a local community garden!”
Some of you weren’t inspired by relatives. Sometimes it was the desire to grow the perfect tomato, as with Daisy. Or, a book such as Jim Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency,” like it was for Joyce Brandon. But whoever or whatever it was … many of you are truly inspired by gardening, and that’s a very thing. Keep spreading the word!
Annie’s Annuals $50 Gift Certificate
The Question: Which plants from their collection are you dying to grow?
Winner of Random Drawing: Warren Keller, who says, “I just love Cerinthe major in my garden . . . I love their whimsical appearance, the way they seem to dance in the wind, and they are always in bloom. Everyone always asks about them! I also have some Impatiens flanaganae and when they are all in sync together, it’s just breathtaking.”
You All Said: You want more Annie’s Annuals plants. Many had shopped here before and were fans. Ruth wrote, “Annie’s plants are so big and healthy and packed so nicely for shipping that I’d probably be happy with anything!” Shawn Mullens asked, “How do you choose from 347 different flowers on my wishlist from Annie’s? Sigh.”
Poppies were a big hit. ” My personal fav is the Poppy,” says Karen Fitz, “in all it’s varieties and splendor. Like big, pastel cones of soft serve ice cream.” Lauren AllPress agrees. “I’ve been in love with all of their poppies ever since I got the catalog,” she says. “I’m especially in love with the Greek Poppies. Such a nice change from the standard orange poppies.”
Ribes Sanguineum, shown above, was also popular. ”Growing up in Inverness,” says Gretchen Plummer, ”I remember its strong appealing scent as I would brush against it climbing on Mt Vision. I have since planted it in my garden … and every spring enjoy the magic of its blossoms.”
Samantha Limcaco says the flowering plant reminds her “of Jane Austen, proper English tea and all things dainty.”
Other favorites were Nemophila menziesii ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ and Alonsoa meridonalis ‘Apricot.’ Nikole Strohl says these plants ”made my garden look effortlessly romantic. When they got leggy, I just hacked ‘em back a bit, and in a week or two they were back to their amazing selves!”
Another popular plant was the Nicotiana ‘Lime Green.’ Says Anna Webb, “The shape, to me, is reminiscent of Persian carpets. The color, well, you can’t have too much lime green. Plant it with orange and white…ah!”
Greenland Gardener Raised Garden Kit and Planting Kit
The Question: What would you plant in this raised bed? Edibles, ornamentals or both?
Winner of Random Drawing: Chrissy plans to grow both. She is just “waiting for the tax money to come in to make my dreams come true. So if I could win it instead that would be saving money and saving 22lbs from the landfills.”
You All Said: An overwhelming number wanted to use this raised bed to grow more fruit, vegetables and herbs … many for the first time. Holly explains, “I developed a love of gardening the last two years. My focus has been on flowers, however, I want to start to get into vegetable and herb gardening. My family and I want to eat healthier.”
Strawberries were the most popular edibles mentioned. And many talked about adding a trellis for peas and beans.
Some wanted to mix in ornamentals.”I find that we have the best luck,” writes Carmen Price, ”when we mix in ornamentals that draw the pollinators to our vegetables.”
A few just wanted flowers. “If you had asked last year,” explains Kat. “I would have said veggies. But this spring I really find myself craving flowers.”
Poor soil quality was a key reason for many to have raised beds. “We have horrible clay soil,” says Diana K. “So raised beds would be the only way I’d be able to get a successful crop of vegetables to feed my family.”
Others talked about using the raised bed with others. Sheila Miller mentions gardening with her 83-year-old mother, and Molly Ochoa with her kids. Proving once again that gardening is good for all generations.
Thanks again for all these great tips and comments. To me, you all are winners!