Create the garden of your dreams

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Transform your garden into a flowery oasis: know how to choose, plant and care for your plants.

Choose the right species

Professional gardeners know that unless you choose plants that are right for your garden, you will not be successful, no matter how bad you are. This truth applies to perennials, but also to annuals that bloom for only a few months. Note the factors that characterize your garden: pH and nature of the soil, sunshine and shade, rainfall, harshness of winter, heat and humidity in summer and any other particularity that you consider important. By consulting good books, you will discover the needs of common garden plants, but common sense will guide you. For example, do you live near the Great Lakes, in the Gaspé Peninsula, in the Lower St. Lawrence? Choose plants that grow in your area or in areas that are related to it: you are less likely to go wrong. Also think of natural predators, raccoons, hares, marmots, etc. If you do not know them, check with a local nursery.

Adapt the plants to your soil

If you love varieties that come in acid earth, such as rhododendrons and azaleas, while the soil of your garden is not acid, know that you impose repeated maintenance work. The pH of the soil can be rectified, but the results are temporary. Products that acidify the soil act for one summer only; you have to give it back year after year. A garden that requires so much work can have a future, but its chances diminish as your task increases. Think twice before planting in a shady garden a shrub that adores the sun or in a semi-arid soil a plant that gets wet.

Hunt invading plants

Even if you love an invasive plant, you will be better without it in the long run and your garden will be better. The exuberant plants end up invading everything and when the damage is done, you have little choice but to rearrange the entire garden. So, for the well-being of your garden and yours, say no to invasive plants. Keep up with the high plants that stay in their place and are good neighbors for others. The nursery will help you to distinguish one from the other.

Divide to favor

Most perennials, such as asters, daylilies and phlox, need to be periodically divided. It is a question of displacing them every three or five years, of dividing the root ball by cutting it or shaking it and putting the pieces back in the ground. The seedling division encourages flowering and makes the picks more vigorous. The astilbes are a good example of this: undivided, they bloom less and less because their roots intertwine and become woody, while the same plan, once divided, is covered with flowers. But this principle does not apply to all plants. Some do not need such treatment; others hate him. Learn in a good book before dividing a perennial that you do not know the requirements.

Give space to the plants

If you plant perennials or trees so close to each other that they shade each other, one day will come when one of them will have to fade in front of the others. Although it is difficult to see in tiny seeds the adult plants that will come out, space them according to the place they will occupy at maturity. This principle is even more important for trees: changing places when they are established is not a small task. A good reference book will give you the size of the tree at maturity and the spacing to respect.

Wait before planting bulbs

The spring bulbs give flowers that are a real wonder. This explosion of colors while nature is still dormant console of winter. But if your garden is new, allow a year or two to go before you put bulbs in it. Wait until you are sure that you are happy with it and that you will not make any major changes. Because if you decided to change it during the summer, you could sack beautiful tufts of new bulbs with your spade. Rather than having to replace them, be patient and put the bulbs in the ground when you are sure that everything will stay in place.

Find little wonders on the internet

Before the arrival of the internet, it was necessary to make a thousand and one steps to find more rare plants. Today, all nurseries, even the smallest, have their site; a quick search lets you discover dozens of garden centers. To multiply your chances, look for the species that interest you under their botanical name, then under their vulgar name. If it is a particular variety, mention it in your research.

Dr. Monika Mathur

Ph.D Yale University

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