Earning My Green Thumbs

Public Flower Garden in downtown Seattle
Image by FallenPegasus via Flickr

Post by guest blogger Cydney Langford:

I am the firstborn child of nursery owner parents. Plants, not babies. I can attest firsthand that green thumbs are born, not made. I had all the qualifications and knowledge, and yet, I can’t keep a peace lily alive for peat’s sake! (peat, as in organic humor) On the way to school most kids were quizzed on their spelling words for the day. I was quizzed on trees and shrubs that we passed along the way.  As previously stated, I had ALL the qualifications and even interest but still, houseplants browned around me. This was the norm until my first house. It had no landscaping whatsoever; a clean slate. This was my time to shine! I could show my parents and prove to myself that I was just a green thumb in waiting.

First up was the placement of beds. An herb garden was a must, as was a vegetable plot or two.  Also not to be forgotten was a cutting garden. My mom always had fresh flowers in the house and my nightstand is never without a small bouquet. It’s quite the homey touch. Now,,,, all this might seem like a daunting task for a new homeowner who hasn’t even unpacked, but I was determined. My thumb was going to be green.

Starting out, money was an object so I wanted hardy perennials and evergreens that would give me presence in the garden. For the herb plot I knew that patience was a virtue if I didn’t want to spend much money so I began with 3 in. pots. I found a great creeping Rosemary which blew me away with how fast it grew and thyme which, to my surprise, was an evergreen in my region. Two super easy starter herbs. Next was 2 varieties of lavender, lavender du Provence and lavender munstead, to which I dug the holes much bigger and added sand before planting. This reminds them of the Mediterranean of where they originated and they’ll thank you for it by growing better and faster than in clay soil. Other herbs such as oregano, chives,sage and annuals like dill, which goes to seed quickly and basil rounded it out. Quick tip: pinching off the blooms on the herbs promotes growth. That way all the energy it would have expended on the blooms gets redirected to the base plant.

For some year round color, evergreens were in order. I chose the fast growing Green Giant. These gave the perimeter of my yard a quick and easy hedge. Dwarf Sungold Cypress adds a pretty yellow green splash of color.  So, I put several of those together for a sunny grouping. My backyard is shaping up quite nicely by now.

Next up was the vegetable plot. I’ve always admired how neat and tidy raised beds look. They also give the garden an English cottage look which I love. I built my own using three 6” x 8’ boards per bed. One on each side with the third board cut in half. Then I secured them to the ground with stakes attached on the inside.  It’s so easy! I painted them white to complete the cottage look.  Our local farmer’s market has some great venders that grow organic vegetable seedlings. I ended up getting all my veggie plants there as well as some local honey and baked goodies. I love the farmer’s market! After planting all my vegetables I mulched them in with some black cow and gave a good watering. Next up, my flowers!

Now with the cutting garden, I absolutely had to have roses. I love roses! However, anything I’ve ever read about roses talks about maintenance and upkeep and fertilizing and so on, etc. Ugh! How can I develop a green thumb when all I’ll be doing is researching rose growing tips and rose trimming tips, how to cover them for the winter & snore, snore, snore! I want to have a life as well. What’s a girl to do? Dum, da, dum dum! Knockout roses to the rescue! You can’t kill these things and they look amazing! I started with two 1 gallon containers and they’ve quadrupled in size in just three years. Beautiful blossom filled bushes with the roses just begging to be put on display in my house. They’re fantastic plants. When we entertain in the summer, no one can believe that I am the one responsible for the growth of these magnificent flowers! They also ask for the name of my gardener or how often my parents “stop by”.  I just reply that it may have taken a while, but I have earned my stripes in gardening and I now am the proud owner of not one, but two green thumbs.

By guest blogger Cydney Langford

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