Planning the Spring Garden

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, the holidays are over and it’s seed catalog time! Walking out to the mailbox is never as much fun as it is in January. Planning can be a complicated and exciting stage of development, where we let our minds wander and ideas flow, then reign it all in and come up with a solid plan and budget. Of course, we’re mindful of the fact that plans usually change and adaptations need to be made, but that just adds to the intrigue of turning dreams into reality.

Winter work at Wellfield includes planning our annual vegetable garden beds, which are located in the Children’s and Sensory Gardens. I like to start by sketching out a (very) rough image of what I’d like the finished beds to look like. I don’t worry too much about space planning, as the beds are fairly small, and we can adapt with the amounts of plants/seed we produce. Our Children’s Garden beds are also pre-plotted into square foot sections. I start with an overall design aesthetic, then fill in the spaces with appropriate plants. This year, we’ve decided to try and deter our resident groundhog from munching by bordering the vegetables with fragrant herbs. Several gardening blogs have recommended this as a natural repellent. We’ll see how it works!

We’re also centering our design ideas on 2022 being “The Year of Connectivity” at Wellfield. Personally, I interpret the theme in my designs by using similar patterns, colors, and textures to move the eye from one area to another. We’ll also try to incorporate some of our existing greenhouse plants and hardscape/structural pieces into the design. Next, I like to make a spreadsheet with the plant species, prices, vendors, and additional notes. This helps us remember what we’ve planted, where we received it from, and the cost from year to year. The sheet can also be reused the following season. After that, we’ll consider some back-up options and submit the ideas for approval. If approved, we’ll order seeds and pre-order plants and work on a germination and planting schedule. Any hiccups along the way can be smoothed out with changing our plant selection, vendor, or design idea. It’s ok if things don’t work out perfectly according to design. There is a bit of fun in learning to adapt. 

Even though it may seem excessive to employ some of these ideas into home garden planning, it can serve as a learning experience as well as a garden “journal” of memories. If you’re feeling crafty, cut some pieces out of magazines and catalogs to make an “inspiration board” (or just use Pinterest, if that suits you better). Take time to be creative and explore your thoughts and ideas. “What if I planted this (color/texture/height) next to this (something completely different)?” can lead to some unexpected and unique ideas just from taking the time to play. Plant perennial herbs in your landscape beds! Base a color scheme on a children’s book! Prune a shrub into an unusual shape! Turn a kiddie pool into a shallow pond! Even if it doesn’t work well with your particular landscape, it’s still fun and challenging to come up with design ideas to get you through the winter. 

Mary Wojcik, Horticulturist