Every winter I tell myself this is going to be the year I plan out my garden.
And yet every April I head to Spring Affair in Lincoln and get caught up in a plant-buying frenzy. I think I literally lose my mind until I reach the checkout counter.
Then it becomes a matter of squeezing the 30 to 40 plants I swore I wouldn’t buy (that’s no exaggeration!) into my existing landscape.
The downside to that out-of-control buying trip is that I lose track of what I’ve bought, and what needs watering; so many of those new finds don’t survive a blistering Nebraska summer.
The good news is that I’ve finally learned after many, many trips to the event that native plants do best. And they are perfect for pollinators, too, and I’m all about keeping them happy and thriving.
John Nabity, who has taught all types of gardening classes at Metro Community College since the early 1980s, says my approach is typical. When he asks — Will your 10-second decision turn into a 20-year mistake? — I know just what he’s talking about.
Despite all my efforts, that pretty perennial I bought on a whim years ago is still trying to take over my front garden bed.
In both credit and non-credit classes, Nabity teaches the 4 Ps: planning, preparing, planting and protecting.
Now is the time for planning, he says. Gardeners should be looking at catalogs, the Internet and gardening books for information. He likes the Taylor gardening guides.
That way you’ll know what you want and what will work best in your landscape. Instead of buying a tree on impulse, for example, you’ll consider whether you want shade or ornamental, where it will go, if it’s too close to the property line or your foundation and whether the canopy will stretch over your neighbor’s yard. Meaning he can prune it at will.
The problem in Nebraska, Nabity says, is that we’re a victim of the weather.
“The harsher the winter, the more excited gardeners are to get out and get a breath of spring air and do something,” he says. “If you don’t plan a little bit, you will accomplish it, but it won’t be right.”
Nabity says plants available at Spring Affair are quality stock from Bluebird Nursery, so that’s a good start. He just recommends doing some homework, to understand what you’re buying and where it will flourish.
Do that planning and you won’t waste time and money, you’ll be a happier gardener and you won’t fail, and have to start all over again.
As CEO of our yards, we have the responsibility of making the right decisions for our landscape. It’s time to curb the impulse buying and be an informed gardener instead.
Wish me luck.
“It happens every spring,” Nabity says.