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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Never Ending Gobstopper

We get invited to our friends in Flora’s home about this time every year. They have one of the most beautiful house site that I know of. The property is set far enough back from any major roads and surrounded by big land all around it that it is very private. In a setting like theirs they can garden and dream about gardening with a unique angle. Everything they do is for them with no consideration given to any passersby’s to see. There is really no front yard or backyard, the areas around the house are just appropriately planted to go with their flow. They are empty nesting yet have gained some four legged companions to make up for the hole that the birds that flew the coup created in their absence. Pets are a serious consideration to give to your plans because it will affect your flow and they can be very helpful when helping you dig holes every where except where you need holes.

Our friends like to do their own planning and with their unique style I really don’t know how they would convey that vision to anyone to put on paper. We have been watching their place evolve for at least 15 years or so we have seen it from the beginnings to what we see will never have an end date. One of the many things that Mimi and I have learned through their gardening style is that patience is very virtuous in the garden. This isn’t their first rodeo so they have learned to plant things far enough apart so the plants grow full and healthy. When things get crowded in the garden the garden gets taller and the plants, in the long run, aren’t as healthy as they should be. It looks stark that way and Mimi and I are terrible about wanting our beds to look done on day one. We have watched plants planted correctly at their place take on a look that we really didn’t know existed. It takes way fewer plants to do it correctly, that’s one good reason, just the money savings, it’s also easier to set the plants up when they are not being crammed in there. They use mulch heavily during the time that it takes for the plants to reach full growth size, after that the weeds just don’t grow where the plants have shaded the area out.

One of the the features in their landscape are  the giant boulders they brought in way back in the early years and built a lot of their plantings around them over time. The boulders shifted the the yards attitude to one that works really well with giant Agaves and yuccas that have been hardy to all of Mississippi weather that we have experienced since we’ve known them. Some of the agaves just leave me unable to stop staring at them, they are so striking and unusual. Big boulders can be purchased and delivered from several places around town, they aren’t really expensive for what you get out of them. It doesn’t take but setting a few around the yard to change the feel of it a lot. Just make sure you have a plan to be able to move those boulders from where they get dropped off to where they are going to be placed in your yard.

Check for a route and for steps and for how to drop it in the exact place you want it and the direction you want it facing when it falls. In other words where it falls is where it may stay so think that out. The boulders also lent them an opportunity to use pea gravel as a mulch in some the areas that it was appropriate with some of the west coast style( really clean look). What I love about their concept is that it also includes good ole southern favorites throughout in waves her and there. There are still majestic Magnolias, oak trees, mature Sasanquas, and their bedding plant choices are deeply southern and some have an east coast feel about. This year they opted out on growing veggies since they are on the Two Dogs veggie pick up program which is close to where they garden. Instead they filled their veggie boxes in their garden spot with cut flowers that were breathtaking. Gladiolus and Crocosmia were in full bloom, white Angelonia brightened the place up planted throughout. The Rudbekia and Gaura where moving in the wind along with lots of Cosmos and Zinnia planted from seed. Thats another thing they do in their garden that sets it off from other beds I see. They are really good at using seed instead of pre grown bedding plants, they do both but with seeds you can come up with plants you would never find in a garden center.

One of my favorite things in their world other than all the other favorite things is that they use large pottery scattered all over the garden to give height, showcase specimen things and to create more places to plant in areas that may not be conducive to those plants if not planted in a pot with the appropriate soil and drip tubes set up as part of their irrigation system. The area is covered in deer so their thinking has to bend around that so they have also fenced off most of the spaces to deter too much deer traffic. They deal with deer through a combination of concepts. Generally using plants that don’t attract deer and planting on both side of the fence make those areas look less like a place that a deer would want jump into unless being chased or spooked that way are about the best ways to handle that. I think their concept is about to move in a new direction organically which is the beauty in the entire setting. The major backstage has been set and now as their lives have changed with retirement slowly shinning over the horizon and their realization that they love it here and aren’t going anywhere so that makes planning even more long haul planning which is deeper and more important than planning for a garden that you know you will be parting with in the next 5 years. When you know you are staying you start thinking planting trees that can hang swings in for the new batch of larva that may be coming your way someday. The flow that these two created for their lifestyle has a lot of lessons for me to pay attention to.

We love to get together and compare notes with each other. We are not doing the same thing but our methods of getting it done are very similar, they like to do their work mostly on their own if they can and neither of us mind getting a little help from someone who knows how to do some things better or more efficiently than we do. It was such a pleasure to be out there in their peaceful and remote slice of Mississippi, discussing amongst each of us about our goals, gardening and not gardening, we care about the same sort of things and see eye to eye on most things. It’s great to have lasting and sincere friendships especially when our lives interweave as much as ours do. We all 4 come from the same cut of beef, all grew up gardening on one level or another and see gardening concepts and conservation beginning to stream very similarly. That can be a lot of information that we can share within each other. Lots to be learned from others experience and we feel honored to have the type of friendship that is open to each other reminiscing about a project that worked or failed, all lessons. Hopefully you have your people that you can confer and confide with, perhaps that person is a new garden center buddy or someone you met at a garden club happening or plant swap event. Remember that us garden center people are your closest source for this kind of experienced knowledge, the best kind. We can save you lots of time and trouble and money by giving you some tips that can shed some light on some of the things that you aren’t sure about. All of us nursery folks thank you for giving us a chance to point you in the right direction, it’s what we love to do. The knowledge that is available to garden concepts is like the Never Ending gobbstopper, it is a never ending , ever changing lifestyle to immerse yourself into.

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