Gardening Disaster

lostwannabegardner(7)April 12, 2006

We moved into our home May of last year. I fell in love with the beautiful flower gardens. One week later, we found out I was pregnant. It was complicated from the beginning and I spent much the pregnancy on bed rest. I do not have a green thumb and my husband is not at all interested in gardening. After a long summer and the drought this winter, I think most of the beautiful flowers/plants have died. I don't know what to do. My heart is broken. Now that the baby is here and I have recovered, I really want to make it a beautiful space again. I'm so lost. A tree has bloomed and a couple of plants are greening, but everything else looks desolate. What's worse is I have no idea what anything is. On top of it, my neighbor has the most beautiful flowers around. I'm sure my place is just an eyesore to him.

I assume I will have to replant most it. One garden, I intend to turn into a rock garden. The bigger garden needs a lot of work. I don't even know where to begin. Any suggestions?

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birdz_n_beez(z5-6 NY)

I personally would begin by identifying what you already have and get to know what they need first. There are tons of books and guides available online, plus the "Name that plant" forum here. Once you know what you have you can work from there. =)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 10:54AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

You say your neighbor has a great garden, begin by asking his advice.
Linda c

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 11:09AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Lostwannabe....no ones garden is at it's best right now; it's early and things are just waking up from long dark days :) Look at it this way...the things that are returning are very resilient and forgiving plants, and with your busy life you probably didn't want anything fussy or high maintenance anyway.

The advice to have someone help you identify what is there is sound...and that neighbor may just know your garden better than you do.

Make notes, and after you know what you have, start with weeding, edging, and tidying up, and work up to the garden design that you want. Congratulations on that baby, probably the best reason to neglect a garden that anyone could have :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 11:26AM
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username_5(banned for no reason)

What you think is dead may not be. At this time of year most gardens in your zone (my zone is also 5) look dead.

You MUST wait until at least mid June to call any
thing dead in our zone.

You will be amazed at how the 'dead' come to life once the temps are more consistently warm and sunny.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 1:43AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Now is a good time to start taking pictures: you will be able to see the [almost] 'bare bones' of the garden, and if you continue taking pics weekly, you will have a record of what the newly sprouting and young plants look like. Very handy to have, both for novice and more experienced gardeners :)

Username-5 - the poster's zone 7 in April is already in the climate-equivalent of a zone-5's early June :) When she said she moved in May and fell in love with the flowers - she was probably being very literal, April and May are gorgeous with blossoms in zone 7 :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 6:58AM
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Lemon_Poppy(z5/6 OH)

My suggestion to you is, do not despair! Take the advice you have gotten here so far and use that as a starting point.

A few things I wish I had done and did not, despite all the encouragement here to do so, was keep a journal, map out the beds and take tons of pictures along the way. I was sure the little bit I was doing was enough. I was wrong, woefully wrong. What I did was just enough to make me crazy this spring!

I did keep the tags off of the plants and in most cases I even looked them up on the internet and printed out additional information, placing all that into a 3 ring binder. That's been quite helpful. Though I wish I knew exactly where each plant IS within the bed. So a map would've been a blessing.

No map...Big mistake. Now here I am in my second summer of gardening looking at all the pretty green things popping up, scratching my head, trying to remember what they are! I can remember some things but not all and am especially lost when it comes to figuring out whats what with the plants coming up that came from the Newbie plant exchange I participated in last fall! Those I didn't make a list of at all and cannot seem to locate the letter that came with the box, so I don't even have that little bit of help! In other words, I have approx 40 plant starts that I put in my bed and I have nothing to guide me as to where I put them, what they are and what I should do with them! So I'm L O S T! Don't let that happen to you!

I did take some photos last year, but not nearly enough. The photos I do have are a help but I wish I had photos of what the plants looked like before they bloomed. I find myself trying to determine if some of these green shoots are really weeds trying to blend in with the real stuff in hopes of not being yanked! I find myself a wee bit suspicious of anything that looks slightly different than the majority. For all I know it's a weed or it may be one of those starts that got poked into the ground a little too close in the fall planting. So I'm stuck playing a waiting game.

There are some areas in my bed that are empty. I can't seem to remember what was there last year. I'm not sure if it's something that is just a late bloomer or if the something that was there isn't coming back. So I'm playing that waiting game as well.

Learn from my mistakes. Some of the note keeping, map making, picture taking may seem like overkill but trust me...it's not. That little extra time would've saved me a whole lot of wasted time this year.

Good luck and Happy Gardening...you'll learn a lot here. I sure did!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 1:16PM
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lostwannabegardner(7)

Thank you so much for all the responses. I intend to get the kiddos out in the gardens with me. My father gave me some lovely petunias that I intend to put in one area of the biggest garden.

The temperature is 100 degrees today. Summer is coming WAY too early this year! At least we have received a little rain this spring after a long drought. The fires here have been terrible. I have been watering daily. I'm still pretty sure most of it is dead.

I will begin working on the garden a bit each morning. Now that my maternity leave is over, I will be working from home, so this will make my "busy" life a little easier.

I may post some pictures at some point so you can see the results (if my thumb turns green, at least!).

Thank you again. Your advice is always welcome!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 2:17PM
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oogy4plants(6B MD)

Perhaps many of the plants that were in the garden you have were annual plants that would normally only last for 1 year. This is probably done frequently to increase the salability of houses. Annual flowers bloom all spring, summer, and fall in warmer areas and then die in the winter. They must be replanted each year- pansies, petunias, impatiens, snapdragons, and zinnias for example. Perennial plants will emerge in the spring and most have a shorter bloom time. I agree- ask your neighbor for help and you may find out if there were a lot of annuals planted before you moved in.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 12:25PM
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sugarhill(7)

Start reading the postings on the forum for your state. If your state doesn't have one, pick the nearest state to you in the same zone.
Absolutely find the nearest county extension office and get every brochure you can from them. You'll find out what does well in your area.
Visit the nearest botanical garden. Read the gardening column in the local newspaper. Visit the best nurseries in your area and window shop.
Two tricks I tried when I got started: I bought ONE of each of the plants I really liked, planted them and waited to see which ones did well and which didn't. I gave away the ones that didn't do well and bought more of the ones that flourished. The other trick was for laying out beds. I copied designs from garden books or online nurseries - BUT I found substitute plants for the ones that wouldn't do well in my area.
As for fertilizer, a slow release fertilizer is good for about 3 months. Add small amounts in the spring - maybe again in mid-summer (depending on how stressed your plants get from summer heat). My nursery carries several organic fertilizers for flowering plants, so those should be easy to find.
It's all experimenting. Over the years, you will move plants around, get rid of some, try something new in its place. One day you walk out the door and realize you have a beautiful bed. And then you'll start thinking of ways to make it better.
One last peice of advice - everyone has a green thumb.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 10:38AM
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