Winter Damage Report

LET'S BEGIN!

This is our first update - we'd like to make them monthly and post them permanently on our website under the garden-log heading. In our updates, you'll see timely gardening tips, garden inspiration, and offerings from Fourth & Walnut.

LATE WINTER GARDENING

Now then, the experts predict a warm and early spring, but you can bet we'll get another bout of winter. Take this opportunity to get some vitamin D and assess the state of your garden and plants (but don't assess them orally like my son did). Note die-back, remove any invasive weeds that remain (now that the ground is so, so loose), and go ahead and cut down perennials that have flopped before spring growth makes traversing your garden more precarious than -->

AND WAIT! Whatever you do, wait a bit longer to remove any residual leaves or winter debris from around your plants. They'll need that insulating layer for the next cold spell that will be sure to come.

Speaking of leaves and protecting your soil...

WE OFFER LEAF MOULD

... the British have an excellent solution to the leaf raking and re-mulching cycle that we all go through every fall and spring. It's called leaf mould (the British spelling makes it sound so sophisticated, but it's very simple).

Basically, fallen leaves are what provide the earth-cover that plants need to retain moisture and help them to out-compete up-and-coming weeds. Also, broken down leaves from years past make for perfect, crumbly, sweet smelling soil! However, we gardeners routinely sanitize our gardens of those leaves. There is a good reason for this! Fallen leaves are unsightly and can smother smaller plants and ground-cover. Also, freshly fallen leaves have a knack for stealing nitrogen from your soil.

But there's another way to use those leaves, and it's offered by your Fourth & Walnut gardeners! Store your leaves in a sunny, yet moist spot for at least a year and you'll have the most wonderful mulch - leaf mould! Here's a brief introduction from Crocus Gardens in the UK -->

Creating leaf mould is considered "cold composting," because it relies on beneficial fungus rather than heat and bacteria to break down its ingredients, and it allows other great microorganisms to survive and be transplanted back into your garden.

Use Fourth & Walnut's own storage location for turning your leaves into leaf mould, or if you have a hidden spot in your garden, have us turn it into a place to make your own leaf mulch. Avoid high mulch costs, and make a healthy garden with leaf mould. Ask us for an estimate!

PRE-SPRING INSPIRATION

The saying, "___ is like riding a bike," does not apply to gardening. Yes, we develop a certain muscle memory when we go through our garden every day and perform tasks by rote, but to approach gardening only in this way misses the point - Gardening is not something we learn and then move on with. It involves experimentation, openness to new ideas, and collaboration with other gardeners. That's why gardening can give you such a rush - it's new every day.

Here are two books than can get you back in the saddle this spring...

In The Layered Garden, accredited gardener David Culp gives us a personal tour of his own garden at Brandywine Cottage. As Culp walks us through distinct parts of his garden, we're easily able to pick up his design principles and apply them to our garden. Culp humbly shows us his past mistakes and how he fixed them by using a long-term garden plan to introduce bold features into his garden. Pick up this book even just for it's incisive photography. I admit, I've plucked a few ideas from photos of his hillside garden.

The second book, Planting: A New Perspective, introduces us to plantsman and designer Piet Oudolf. Anyone with a naturalistic garden should be aware of Piet's ideas. He, with a group of Dutch and English nurserymen started our current naturalistic movement in the 70s. The way that he designs by mixing and grouping perennials is a Copernican revolution. It's common to think of native and naturalistic plantings as amorphous and lacking intelligability and design. This book will make you see the exact opposite. There's perhaps more design involved in Piet's work than in the garden at Versailles. Agree or disagree with his style, this book makes the reader aware what they will never exhaust what there is to know about plants and how they can interact in a planned garden.

Interested in implementing the principles of these books in your own garden? Give us a call. Let us know what you think! What inspires you? Respond to ruth@4thandwalnut.com - (734) 272-7321

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