Gardening continues to develop in reputation


By Lynette L. Walther
| correspondent

Every year surveys inform us about upcoming trends for the coming year. Pantone (the publisher’s color experts) is picking “hot” colors like Lemon Skin and Ultimate Gray for 2021, which will be used for everything from furnishings to clothing to flowers that we grow in our gardens.

And when it comes to gardening, there are surveys for that too. This headline says it all. Of the top garden trends for the coming year, gardening itself is at the top of the list. Imagine! Those of us who have gardened for years top the trend list. But we have a lot more company now.

Many of us always knew we were ahead of the curve, but it’s nice to see the recognition. What’s even nicer is the experience, confidence, and results we get every year when we partake in one of the fastest growing pastimes – its popularity is growing by leaps and bounds.

But for the new gardener, that process is only just beginning. Today we are going to address some of their concerns and interests, and provide advice on how to proceed.

Loads of new gardeners have joined the regulars and are hungry for information on many gardening topics. Your interests include:

1. Adding easy-growing flowers for lighter gardens or mood-enhancing bouquets.

2. Overcome gardening challenges, e.g. B. Turn shady corners into lush areas with the right plants.

3. Learn about the basics of vegetable and flower gardening such as soil, fertilizer, pests, and diseases.

4. Take the guesswork out of design with simple, pre-planned designs.

5. Pollinator gardens, design and plants.

Easy to grow flowers for lighter gardens

For anyone, especially a new gardener, a trip to the garden center can be a sobering and overwhelming experience. There are just too many options these days. That’s why every new gardener needs to do a little research before entering this cacophony of color and diversity.

There are many websites online that describe plants and their uses. A good first stop would be, which lists bedding plants, explains their uses in the garden, sunlight requirements, and size predictions. This one-stop source provides the novice with an encyclopedia of knowledge that they can employ when faced with a kaleidoscope of choices. Before getting out of the car, beginners can virtually plan their garden using the plants they come across in kindergarten. You can think of color combinations, place plants, and adjust care requirements for gardening success. And there is no better encouragement to a gardener than success.

Overcoming the gardening challenges

New gardeners should be aware that shade gardening is one of the toughest ways to grow anything. Site preparation is important as there are many shaded areas under the canopy where tree roots make it difficult to grow and plant. Some gardeners make the mistake of adding layers of soil, but that can damage or kill trees by suffocating their roots. Plant selection is also critical to success in a shade garden. Even plants listed as “full shade” need at least three hours of direct sunlight a day, and then filtered sun for the rest of the day.

Basics of the vegetable and flower garden

Vegetable gardening is often what attracts most new gardeners, and they’re hungry for advice that works. Growing vegetables is easy, but there are two principles that are important.

The first rule for vegetables (or any type of gardening) is that your plants are only as good as the soil they grow in. Compost, rotted manure, and in some cases sand and lime can be added to improve the soil. To know exactly what is needed, a soil test is one of the most important steps in setting up a garden.

First-time gardeners may want to start with bedding plants rather than growing from seeds for the best results. But starting from the seed is hardly rocket science and anyone who has the will can. Humans have grown their food this way forever. It is mostly a matter of time whether the new gardener is ready to devote himself to the project.

The second principle is that the best “fertilizer” is the gardener’s shade. This means that frequent garden checks allow the gardener to monitor water needs, harvest at the appropriate times, and identify and fix problems early on before they become disasters. Following these two principles will result in healthier plants that will thrive, produce and resist pests and diseases.

Pre-planned drafts

Garden design is in some ways a matter of personal preference. In general, however, design principles must be applied. Often our own eyes tell us what looks good and what doesn’t.

For example, inexperienced gardeners like to mix decorative bedding plants – a red, a white, a red, a white – you got the idea. The problem with this approach, however, is that it confuses the eye and creates a messy design mess. Instead, group the colors of flowering plants together for greater impact, and think of an odd number of plants to be grouped together. It is far better to group three plants together than two or four.

Observe the mature size of the plants and position the larger plants in the background. Or if a garden can be seen from all sides, place the tallest plants in the center. In a good garden design, colors, shapes, textures, growth habits, contrasts, sizes and heights as well as flowering times are taken into account for the interest in all seasons.

Pollinator gardens, design and plants

Pollinator gardens are popular these days, and these gardens often rely on native plants and always on flowering plants, and that can include vegetables. In fact, planting flowering plants with vegetables will result in better pollination.

Pollinators include bees, wasps, butterflies, some birds, and other insects. Please note the information given above when designing. A list of plants to use can be found on the Pollinator Partnership website ( Just enter your zip code to receive a list of plants created just for your project.

And here is one final piece of advice for inexperienced gardeners. Yes, you will have disasters, some plants will not thrive, others can die – but every mistake adds to your gardening experience and knowledge.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold Medalist for Writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal, the Exemplary Journalism Award from the National Garden Bureau, and the author of Florida Gardening on the Go. Their gardens are on the banks of the St. Johns River.