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Cincinnati gardening

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!