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Monday, March 28, 2016

GREEN SPACE

Gardening a perennial pastime

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Gardening a perennial pastime

Temperatures are rising and chances of freezing weather are almost nil, so experienced and beginning gardeners alike will soon be spending a lot more time outdoors sprucing up their yards and gardens with some of the latest and most popular landscaping trends.

Mark Walton, co-owner of Garrison’s Home and Garden Showplace in Shreveport, said one of the biggest trends he sees today is that of container gardening.

“One of the reasons why is because you have such a diverse group of properties now. You have people in garden homes and townhouses, smaller spaces and in general, houses are smaller and yards are smaller, so container gardening is really, really big,” Walton said. “The choice of containers is a big thing. You can reflect your creativity in it with the colors and styles of containers, and combination planters are a big thing where people combine shrubbery, annuals, even vegetables.”

Thanks to the versatility of container gardening, someone who has felt limited with a lack of green space can still experiment with planting and even grow their own vegetables in a container.

For more traditional planting, Walton said Garrison’s carries a number of branded products such as the Southern Living Plant Collection, Proven Winner Plant Collection and First Editions.

“They are basically new and improved versions of the same plants,” he said. “We now have, for instance, like, a Loropetalum, which is a real popular shrub; it has purple foliage and a pink flower. We used to just have one kind that was just this big, huge monstrous plant that had to be pruned back, but you can now get four varieties of it, from short to medium, so the designer has a huge choice.”

Another trend in landscaping is something the gardening industry refers to as “edibles,” Walton said.

“That is going to include fruit trees, all your berries, your blueberries, your blackberries, all that kind of stuff, unusual fruit trees, down to your vegetables and things like that – that’s a huge category that’s increased,” he said. “Of course, there’s a big organic gardening movement; we’ve embraced that.”

Walton surmises that growing one’s own food has increased in popularity due to people’s worries about chemicals used in pesticides as well as bacteria-related illnesses that have stricken people through the food they consume.

“You produce your own food to sort of control that,” he said. “It’s always been a big thing, but it’s just incredible now. We’ll have days where fruit trees will match everything, which is kind of weird. It used to be kind of an eccentric thing, but now it’s big time.”

You might also see a lot more outdoor living spaces in people’s yards these days.

“The outdoor kitchen is just unbelievable,” Walton said. “Many of the landscapers that we deal with now are working on those kinds of projects. They’re building these absolutely unbelievable outdoor kitchens.”

Container gardening also relates back to outdoor kitchens and other living spaces because those contained plants can be situated around the hard spaces, he said.

Those beginners looking to get started on landscaping their yard for the first time should make sure to have everything measured out before they begin shopping, Walton advised.

“Many times we see people who emotionally want a tree but have no concept of the size of the tree in relationship to their property, so measure your property and be aware of its orientation and each place they’re dealing with: north, south, east and west as it relates to morning sun, all those kinds of things,” he said. “Also spend time outside in your property as you’re doing chores and working. Look at the sun and the way it’s moving.

“I always tell people if you stay at a property for a long time, no one will know it like you,” he said.

As the warmer temperatures of spring and summer near, Walton said Garrison’s tries to make sure it sells plants that are meant to do well in this climate.

“I would say that the most challenging part of our climate is the summer, and many of our customers now do invest in professional sprinkler systems; that really helps you on the watering end of it,” he said.

Walton advises looking into sprinkler systems, drip irrigation and just doing what you can handle watering-wise to get your plants through the summer heat.

–Sarah Crawford

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