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Rethinking the Diva Sun Garden

I had been giving serious thought to relinquishing my sun garden at Ault Park. It’s a bit of a diva—no fault of its own of course; I am the one who planted it. But, given my new roles at work, my photography and my adoption of the Bettman garden around the corner from my house, it seemed like a good time to let something go, before it all gets out of control.

But then I went to the park this past weekend, and this happened: I met close to a dozen friends, park visitors and gardeners alike, while I was tidying up my gardens for the recent garden show. If I give up my diva sun garden, I will miss these impromptu encounters with friends.

Ault park diva

That’s the thing about gardening—it’s not just about plants, soil, bulbs and weeding. It’s about sharing garden ideas, talking about plants with fellow enthusiasts and simply enjoying the beauty of the garden. One of the perks about being a landless gardener and gardening in public spaces is that I get to interact with so many people. When I gardened on a dead-end street, it was a rarity that anyone but my next-door neighbor would see the garden and engage in garden chatter.

So I’m hatching a new plan to redesign the garden to require less maintenance, knowing I will not be able to tend to it several days a week like I have in years past.

Plants to edit:

  • Anything that requires staking due to inadequate sun causing the plant to flop.
  • Those that look great for a short period of time and then become uninteresting and just take up space.
  • Those that are not attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.

What to keep:

  • Anything that loves a hard pruning at any time. The mint and Russian sage receive a healthy pruning at least once a month and they respond beautifully.
  • The colors are amazing, they require little to no care and when planted a little on the tight side, they get quite bushy and upright, forming a nice mass of flowers and foliage.
  • Cuphea, and add more of it. This plant takes a bit of time to flourish, but when it does, its glossy green leaves and tubular orange flowers look stunning, especially when it’s planted en masse.

My insurance policy

Knowing that come spring I will want to buy everything at the garden center, I’ll make a garden plan, drawn to scale, to force me to adhere to an easy-to-care-for garden plan. (I hope!)