By Marty Ross
Every garden reflects the personality of its owner, and my garden is no exception. I like to collect things, including daffodils, peonies and witch hazels. I allow annual flowers to romp freely through the flowerbeds and look for ways to recycle materials. My garden has a lot of character, and it feels like me.
My penmanship is not what it was back when Mrs. Cavenaugh awarded me a gold star for my careful cursive script, but my garden signature is pretty easy to read. I sign my flowerbeds with a self-indulgent flourish. It is amazing where my plant collecting weakness leads me.
I appreciate good-looking garden furniture, and I love adding telling details to my garden. I have a lot of shrubs and perennial flowers, but every summer I grow lots of bright annual flowers, with herbs and vegetables tucked among them. I always have fun in my garden, and it shows. Here are some of my signature touches:
Annual flowers: It wouldn't be summer without nasturtiums, and I give them free reign to wind their way through flowerbeds and tumble out of planter boxes. They take a break from blooming in hot weather but come roaring back in fall. It's not too late to plant them: Soak the seeds in water for a couple of hours (no longer than overnight) and poke them in the soil in a sunny or partly shady spot. They will come up in a few days and bloom in about seven weeks. It seems like a long time, but the round leaves are as charming as the flowers. Try them!
Living, blooming collections: I know a garden designer whose work you can spot a block away: In every garden he plants a clump of 'Heritage' river birch trees. They're nice trees, but his signature plant has almost become a rubber stamp. Every garden - and every gardener - is different. My husband and I collect daffodils, peonies, and plants in the witch hazel family. We have lots of different kinds of hydrangeas, and a pretty impressive collection of boxwoods too. Our garden is an urban arboretum like no other.
Freewheeling recycling: On a trip to Holland I was inspired by the intricate stone paving pattern in a private garden. When I came home the pile of miscellaneous bricks and pavers in a corner of our garden found its purpose. Crazy-quilt paving is just the thing for a spot by the back door, for a small patio in front of a garden shed, or for the place where you coil the hose or keep the watering cans. It's fun to find a new use for old materials. They add instant character and a little touch of history to your garden.
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