Not a gardener; what to plant in New England?

Leisu(Boston, MA)March 30, 2003


okay, i know this is a big question... but i have NO CLUE what to do in a garden. i can plant things (i used to help my grandma) but i just acquired this yard, it's a house that was taken over by my law office, and they gave me the yard to take care of.


okay, New England weather (Boston).

The yard is a mess... but there are separated beds for planters. i see tulips coming up right now. sparcely. the yeard is pretty big. trees and what not.

so, what can i plant out here, that will come back year after year, look good. and on a budget?

i know this is a dream for some people. i think it will be fun. but i'm very scared i'm going to plant stuff and it will die. (therefore waste of money for the company).

ANY help on things to plant???

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florascapes(z5 MA)

What a great opportunity--to build a garden and someone else pays for it! Keep in mind not to plant anything until the ground is fully thawed for good--unfortunately in our zone, around Memorial Day. As far as specific plants, what colors do you like? How many hours a week do you want to spend on the garden? How much sun/shade is in the yard?
The following are some things I'd do with such a space first before planting anything. I've been kind of extensive, and hope I haven't suggested things you've already thought of--just don't know how much gardening you've done.
1. See if you can get info from the previous owner(s) about what was planted there.
2. Start by cleaning up the garden. Rake up old leaves, trim back dead stems. I check if dead by snapping off a piece, and if the remaining stem is not green, then it's probably dead. But I further check by grasping the plant at the base and wiggling it a bit to see if the roots are firmly in place. If not, I pull it up.
3. Pick up some bags of aged manure and compost at your garden center. Mix them up and spread the mix about 1-2" thick throughout the beds. However, don't cover right up to the stems of plants--leave about 3" breathing space.
4. This last is the hardest thing. Watch the garden this spring and summer and see what comes up as you don't want to pull up something that might be great that doesn't appear until later in the season. Also, watch the sun pattern--how many hours of full sun does most of the yard get during the day? Most flowering plants need at least 5 hours of full sunn daily to be lush and healthy.
5. To fulfill the need for blooming plants this summer, pur-chase annuals and small pots of perennials that you like from local garden center. Plastic pots hold water better than ceramic and terra cotta. If you love the latter, put the plant still in its plastic pot inside the ceramic/terra cotta container.
6. Finally, and most important is watering. And the earlier in the day the better. (3am to 9am). You might consider soaker hoses for watering and timers as well if you don't have much time. However, soaker hoses alone won't be enough, so plan on watering additionally when the weather gets warmer, especially if there hasn't been much rain.
Good luck and enjoy. Welcome to Zone 5! Barbara

    Bookmark   April 1, 2003 at 8:43AM
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Leisu(Boston, MA)

Thanks so much Barbara!

Zone 5, okay good to know, i couldn't figure it out from the maps i saw.... heehee!
Lots of Sun on the whole yard.... there is a tree in the middle, I can't tell if it's dead or not since there are not leaves yet.
There are lots of beds, but it doesn't look like there is anything planted except those tulips, which were not planted with thought/care. (spiradically)
So, if anyone from this weather area can answer this,
the last week we've had lots of rain, and even some snow. it's 45 today but i think in the 30s tom., when can i dig out some of the ground to plant the stepping stones (there is NO sidewalk at all, and people are coming in muddy!)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2003 at 8:43AM
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ellen_(z5 NY)

What an interesting project! As far as digging the ground to put in stepping stones, you can do it as soon as it is workable, (not frozen) as long as it's not going to disturb things already growing there like the tulips. I'm in your zone, upstate NY and we just had a couple of inches of snow! This is a weird spring to be sure.
Those were some great suggestions. Do you just want flowers or are you also interested in vegetables or herbs. It sounds like you could plant a bed of tomatoes or something like it if it wouldn't be located in the tulip bed. Though it's work, tulips can be moved, so if you want to consolidate them, you can mark their locations now and dig up in the fall to put them closer together if they're scattered more than you like. Good luck and enjoy.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2003 at 10:00AM
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Elly1(zone 6)

Hi Leisu,
I live just south of Boston, and always thought I was in either zone 6a or 6b.
It sounds like you have a great challenge on your hands. Don't be afraid to make a mistake now and then. I can tell you, it is one of the only ways in which one learns (especially what never to plant again)!
Of course, great advice is available right here on these forums!

Here is a link that might be useful: zone map

    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 7:05PM
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You can make the area look pretty right away with pansies galore, if the budget allows. CT is zone 6. I have already bought some perrenials, plants that come back each year. You can broadcast wildflower seeds if you wish to have an english garden,but you have to ammend the soil and rake the seeds in and then make sure to water daily until the plants are hardy enough to survive. I would ask your garden center for the best advice for your area and site and situation.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2003 at 10:47PM
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Carrotcake(Everett, Wa.)

Everything in my vegetable garden is coming up except for my carrots! What did I do wrong?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 6:06PM
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