Gardening with Allen: Take time to enjoy your garden

Do you take the time to enjoy your garden? I’m retired, so I have lots of time to spend in mine. But even before retirement I spent time every day enjoying my landscape. Before retirement, I got up early so I could spend 10 or 15 minutes in my yard before work. Now my first time outside is right after breakfast. I carry my pruners when I walk around the garden so I can prune a shrub or remove spent flowers or pick a few flowers for a bouquet.

I also pull a few weeds as I go along. This short time every day accomplishes almost all of my weeding. I don’t have to spend hours on a hot Saturday afternoon. I learned long ago that most weed seeds need light to germinate so I also keep an inch or two of bark mulch in my flower and shrub beds. That eliminates at least 90 percent of new weeds.

My wife enjoys gardening too. A few years ago, she completed the Master Gardener course taught by the WSU Extension. That increased her knowledge and enjoyment of gardening.

There were parts of the landscape that we created together, but we each had our own section. If I had an idea or a plant that applied to her section, I made suggestions, but she made the final decision.

I was not very successful in getting my children interested in gardening until I learned that the best way to involve them was to give them a section of their own. When I gave my youngest daughter a section of the vegetable garden, she promptly decided to plant flowers there. We went to the garden store to pick out flowers for her garden each spring. She asked about colors and plant sizes. She has an excellent sense of color combinations, so her area was always the prettiest area in the landscape. I was glad to respond when she asked for help weeding. Working together is a great time for bonding. Some of my fondest memories are working together with my dad or mom. I am thankful that now all my grown children have their own homes and take pride in their landscapes.

We have moved into an apartment because it is too much for us to maintain a large landscape now. However, we got permission to plant flowers on two sides of our corner apartment. We moved some of our favorite perennials from our previous home and added a lot more. Our area breaks a lot of rules or design principles that I write about. It is more a collection of a wide variety of flowers.

On cool days with sun breaks, I enjoy sitting with my back to the sun by my new flower garden. On warm days I can sit nearby in the shade of a tree.

There is also a good sized area where residents can plant vegetables, and I plant my share.

Of my five different careers in horticulture the one I liked the best was teaching horticulture for 23 years at a two-year community college. I still get to teach through this column. If you have a question, feel free to send me an email. Many of my garden columns are answers to questions readers have asked.


Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening specialist. allenw98663@yahoo.com

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