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Authors Posts by Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith
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Jennifer Smith is a Horticulturalist and manages Client Services for Wimberg Landscaping. Contact her with questions or ideas for future topics at jsmith@wimbergco.com. Learn more about Wimberg Landscaping at www.wimberglandscaping.com.

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Our garden guru gives you the keys to helping your garden bloom this spring.

Our garden columnist offers tips on gardening.

It may sound silly to be talking gardening, as I look out the window to see snow falling, but this is a great time to think about spring in our gardens. For one, who doesn’t need a mental escape from this cold, blustery weather? I think of planning my garden like organizing my closet for my spring wardrobe. I keep what I love to wear, pull what is old, doesn’t fit or out of style and create a list of how to build on the existing spring wardrobe. I simply do this for my gardens, too.

Review
First, I look at photos of the gardens to determine what I like, what was less than exciting and where I could use some pops of color. I do this for all my gardens: from my large park gardens to the containers on my balcony. If I see too much mulch or a container that is less than stellar, I know I need to add more plants this year. If the garden looks too cluttered or the containers look like they are beyond bursting at the seams, I make a list of what can be edited from the garden and a list with the correct amount of plants to add to my containers.

Renew
Because it’s below freezing out and snow is blanketing my gardens, I use this time to renew. I dive into garden books, magazines, blogs and websites. It’s so easy to fall into a gardening rutt- selecting the same plants, the same colors and the using the same containers and accessories each year. Shake it up! Take some plant and design queues from garden enthusiasts around the world. It’s a great escape and you’ll be brimming with new garden ideas.

Rejuvenate
I’ve studied my photos and found some new garden inspiration, so now it’s time to make it happen. We may not be able to do the actual digging on our gardens now, but we can start collecting our new garden accessories and containers. Finding just one new container to add to my balcony collection makes it bit more bearable to wait out winter in anticipation of spring. If I haven’t already, I like to use these cold winter days to clean the containers I will be using this spring. I scrub the pots, look for any damage I may have missed last season and prep them with fresh, organically rich soil. Now they are ready for spring planting; whenever spring arrives.

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Cold weather have you feeling blue? Our green guru offers four house plants that will improve boost your mood and your health.

The winter doldrums are apt to creep in soon. The holiday decorations will be taken down, the last of the parties attended and the calendar reminds us that warmer days are still a bit down the road. Scientists tell us that plants are very effective in improving our mood. But when you think about it, it’s pretty obvious, yes? A walk in a park, down a quiet, tree-lined street or if you are lucky a path deep in the woods always always lifts our spirits.

When you are stuck indoors, the common houseplant is there to save your mood. For one, they improve air quality- some are remarkable at removing toxins from the air and the rest just pump that oh so vital fresh oxygen back into the home. Simply being around growing green things can improve our mood. Should you enjoy cooking, there’s nothing better than fresh herbs in the dead of winter to bring your favorite dish to life.

Don’t protest and tell me that you kill plants. We all don’t have green thumbs, but some plants simply don’t care about our garden prowess. I’m great gardener, but not the best caretaker of house plants. Here are some of the plants I have been growing with less than diligent attention:

Snake Plant AKA Mother-in-Law’s tongue:  My husband has been tending to these for years and the biggest task involved is giving them larger pots over the years.

Pothos: You see these in every restaurant, salon, doctor’s office and shop in town. Why? They ar that easy to grow! This one has been living on my dresser for years, under a lamp. I cut back the trailing vines to keep it lush and water it regularly.

Umbrella Tree or Hawaiian Schefflera: My dad gave me this plant two years ago along with a bonsai tool kit. As you can see, I forgot to trim my plant. It is the happiest plant, ever. This will get quite large, so I’ll transplant to a new pot and then start trimming it back by removing new growth.

Thanksgiving Cactus: I have had this plant for almost 10 years. It never fails to bloom, it is extremely forgiving and it’s tidy. Christmas and Easter cactus are very similar in appearance, but all seem to be a breeze to care for and easy to acquire.

Here’s my advice, find a plant that catches your eye and go for it. You will never learn to garden, even houseplant gardening, if you don’t try.

Need a pick-me-up? Before you reach for another cup of coffee, read on as our gardening guru explains how to naturally energize through an energy garden.

A colorful garden tucked into a balcony. There's always room to garden!
A colorful garden tucked into a balcony. There’s always room to garden! Pink blooms are never dull and the bright colors of the Croton plant adds a bit of energy along with colorful containers and a throw pillow.

 

We’ve all been there: in a job we find mind-numbing, in a rut with our day-to-day routine or just feeling beige. We need to shake things up, add some creativity and energy into our lives. When this is the case, the last thing you want is a garden of tranquility.

So what about an energy garden?
You are already on the right foot with a garden, no matter how small. Scientific research has been showing that playing in the soil may release antidepressant microbes. Apparently we breath in and even absorb through our skin microbes that may have a similar effect as anti-depressants. I can tell you that any form of physical activity is good for you. We all know that and that’s why every corner in town has a yoga or pilates studio. So what happens when you couple happy soil microbes and the endorphins of exercise in the garden- you start to turn that feeling of beige to pink.

Scents
Lightly run your hands over lavender, sage, spring hyacinth or a summer lilacs. Scents can relax and invigorate us. Seriously anything that that doesn’t smell like a cubicle is a welcome change.

First assignment: Slowly stroll through your garden center or local plant shop and smell the plants. Do they have a sweet, earthy or musky aroma? Which ones make you perk up and have your shoulders lift as you inhale once more, deeply?

Colors
There’s a reason why fast food places are red and yellow- those colors energize us,  encouraging us to eat faster and turn those tables over. So what if we took this same theory, sans the grease, and applied it to our gardens?  

Croton plants are great for pops of color
A Croton plant adds a lot of color in a small garden.

Start with primary colors red and blue and sprinkle in yellow and orange and maybe deep purple for good measure. Since we are skirting winter, look for plants with these colors in their foliage. If you are still installing perennials in your garden, pick three of these colors, use them en masse and sprinkle in the remaining colors. We want large bands of colors, to pull you in and engage you. If the garden is one of each color dropped in here and there it may give the appearance of chaos and feel discombobulated. Start bold and big and then accent with colors.

Rules, There are No Rules
But you just said… yes I know. When I share rules it’s to let you know about good design principles. Once you work with these and and understand them, then you can manipulate them to fit your personal style.

Accessorize Your Garden
If your garden is tight on space, or is a collection of tables on a balcony, how do you add the colors that help you feel energized and inspired? You use colorfully glazed planting containers, hand-blown glass ornaments and pillows and rugs drenched in colors that make you feel great.

Next time we talk- succulents for indoors!

Cheers,

Jennfier

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Our new gardening guru explains why time in the soil will help you find balance, improve your health, and stimulate your creativity.

Ladies, let’s garden! Oh, what’s that? You have a career, family, friends, places to go so the last thing you want is one more project. I hear you. That’s why I want you to put down the iPad (after you read this of course!) and grab a trowel. We are all so busy, too busy. Thankfully, the idealization of being busy is starting to wane. But we are still stressed, often overworked and looking for ways to take better care of ourselves. That’s why I say, garden.

Like you, I wear many hats and often wake up with a to-do list running through my mind. And I garden. I garden a lot! I have been gardening for over 20 years and I can tell you it’s that time with my hands in the soil that has brought me peace when I needed it most, exercise when I felt sluggish and quiet when everything was getting to be too much. It’s my creative outlet and it keeps my mind sharp because there’s always more to learn with gardening.

This column is geared towards those new to gardening. If you are an experienced gardener, everything we discuss here can be expanded upon. So if we talk about creating a small space for meditation in the garden, you can develop that into a patio space for you and your friends to practice Saturday yoga together. This isn’t so much about learning the latest plant varieties but rather, how working with plants, be it in a large garden or a highrise balcony can help you find balance, improve your health, stimulate your creative juices and sometimes give you an excuse to just sit and be in the garden.

In the next few posts, I will share how to discover and nurture your garden style. To get us started, I have an assignment for you. Visit as many gardens as you can: visit parks, the Krohn Conservatory, museum garden spaces, even your friend’s balcony garden. When you enter the garden just be still for a moment and then write down the first feeling that comes to mind. You may be surprised the emotions and reactions a garden can elicit.

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