It's the start of the garden tour season.
Here are some short cuts to a show garden inspired by the various garden tours in the area:
PLACE POTS IN GARDEN BEDS
Colorful containers aren’t just for the porch or patio. Set a large container in the middle of a garden bed elevated slightly by placing it on a stack of square stepping stones or bricks. The color of the pot can coordinate with the trees and shrubs already in the bed. I loved seeing a deep red container placed near a Japanese maple, filled with blooming pink and white flowers. Don’t contain your enthusiasm — be creative with containers.
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PAINT YOUR GARDEN ACCENTS
A can of purple spray paint changed one garden scene from boring into bodacious. You can use spray paint in your own garden to re-style your outdoor furniture or turn an old wheelbarrow, garden tools or even rusty metal junk into garden art. At one garden tour I enjoyed a collection of shovels sticking out of the lawn. All the shovels were spray-painted yellow — then linked with bright red ribbon from shovel to shovel. It was original; I will say that much.
USE OYSTER SHELLS AS A GARDEN MULCH
It was at the Gig Harbor garden tour a few years ago that I first saw oyster shells used as a garden mulch around lavender plants. The lavenders appreciated the sunlight that would reflect off the white shells and the oyster shells also add calcium to the soil as they decompose. These are the type of take-home, practical ideas you can learn at local garden tours.
CREATE SECRET GARDENS
You don’t need a large estate to create a secret garden area. In one small garden in SeaTac, the owner used a section of fence to screen off a corner of the yard. By following the stepping stones visitors were led behind the fence where suddenly they found themselves in a hidden garden room complete with sitting area and carpet of blooming groundcovers. Fragrant lilies competed with antique roses to fill this tiny secret garden room with fragrance.
INVITE THE FAIRIES TO YOUR SIDE GARDEN.
Another show garden in Gig Harbor used the oft-forgotten side yard as a place to build a miniature garden — complete with garden fairies displayed on flat rocks and sitting on miniature benches. Craft and garden gift stores sell these miniature garden furnishings that will enchant any child and make landscaping fun — even if all you have is a tabletop garden.
Marianne Binetti is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and eight other gardening books. She has a degree in horticulture from WSU and will answer questions from her Web site at www.binettigarden.com.